In October, Elon Musk took management of Twitter in a $44 billion deal, saying he hoped to reinforce Twitter’s mission as “a digital town square.” His modifications to moderation practices have since led civil rights teams to allege his actions will enhance hate speech and misinformation.
This week, Musk’s Twitter raised alarms by suspending a number of high-profile journalists, drawing the condemnation of entities together with The United Nations, the European Union, and the American Civil Liberties Union. We requested Kevin Esterling, a UC Riverside professor of political science and public policy, to weigh in on the implications of the journalists’ suspensions. Esterling is director of the Laboratory for Technology, Communication and Democracy.
Q: The largest worry with Musk’s Twitter takeover was unharnessed discourse, and the unfold of misinformation. The transfer to droop journalists seems to go in the other way. How ought to we now interpret Musk’s free speech/digital city corridor proclamations?
Esterling: In precept, the idea of free speech has all the time been bounded when speech can create precise hurt to others. But the suspensions of journalists on this case reveals that isn’t making use of a principled check however as an alternative is barely contemplating if the potential hurt is to him particularly as a person. He appears much less involved if speech can probably hurt others. The arbitrariness is additional underscored by the truth that the journalists who had been suspended did not truly tweet any location details about Musk.
Q: Twitter is a personal entity. But within the digital age, is that this kind of suppression tantamount to authorities suppression of the media?
Esterling: I believe as Twitter declines as a dominant social media platform, different platforms will emerge as alternate options, and so suppression of voices on Twitter will not be particularly consequential.
Q: Does the chilling impact of the suspensions make “Twitter flight” extra seemingly? Are there but any viable alternate options to Twitter? If so, have the content material moderation insurance policies of these websites drawn scrutiny?
Esterling: My understanding is that the suspensions do not matter to the Twitter consumer group as a lot as his latest restrictions on sharing hyperlinks from different social media platforms. I’m seeing extra tutorial Twitter customers promote their Mastodon accounts rather than their Twitter accounts, though that may be extra wishful pondering since a full swap from Twitter to a brand new platform would require a sea change, and that’s arduous to foretell if or when that might occur.
University of California – Riverside
Free speech knowledgeable says journalists’ Twitter suspension is not tantamount to authorities suppression of the media (2022, December 20)
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