Elon Musk may be a free speech hypocrite, but he’s hardly the first. This is America, after all, where one day the nation’s forefathers are unfurling the First Amendment, and the next they’re literally making it a crime to say anything scandalous about the government. Sure, Elon promised to turn Twitter into a free-speech paradise, and now he’s banning users for tweeting the location of his Gulfstream G650. But that’s his right as the owner of a private company he wildly overpaid for. To quote Bari Weiss, “The old regime at Twitter governed by its own whims and biases and it sure looks like the new regime has the same problem.”
We are now a couple months into Musk’s $44 billion experiment and, needless to say, it’s not going well. Twitter hasn’t collapsed, but amid some high-profile stumbles—allowing anyone to purchase a blue check, then realizing impersonation will be problematic; announcing that users will be forced to provide location data, then banning those who share the whereabouts of his jet; unsuspending Donald Trump, then defenestrating journalists whose coverage he disliked—many of the site’s prominent users are setting themselves up on alternative platforms like Mastodon and Post. Maybe Musk doesn’t mind chasing away the elites, though this weekend’s ban on links to competitors suggest he’s not indifferent. Meanwhile, Twitter itself has become noticeably more buggy as executives and advertisers have fled.
Musk’s legal problems, of course, are compounding too. When he took over in October, Musk immediately began laying off a good portion of Twitter’s workforce. To those remaining, he demanded fealty. In one after-hours message to staff, he told them they needed to “be extremely hardcore” and commit themselves to “working long hours at high intensity.” Musk instructed staff to click “yes” if they agreed with his vision. Those who didn’t were shown the door.