Musk Bought Twitter: Why Does it Matter?

By: Chris Johnson

Some of the biggest political news in the country today, strangely enough, is Elon Musk’s acquisition of social media company, Twitter. For those who aren’t Twitter users, it might be hard to understand why this is such a big deal, or how it could possibly have national, political implications.

But it will, and Musk’s own Twitter post as he contemplated buying the company illustrates why. “Given that Twitter serves as the de facto town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy,” Musk said.

In our day, every government agency, every politician, and every political candidate have and regularly use a Twitter account, both to release official statements and to signal positions and build support and political will among their followers. Likewise, journalists and non-government organizations use their accounts in the same way. Throughout the past decade, Twitter has slowly tightened up their standards of “acceptable” speech: sometimes throttling accounts with a reputation of controversy, sometimes removing them from search results and making them difficult to find, sometimes blocking entire subjects and articles from being posted on the site (the Hunter Biden laptop story leading up to the 2020 election), sometimes banning accounts altogether like former-President Trump and the satire website, the Babylon Bee, which was kicked off for calling a transgender “woman” a man.

Funnily enough, it seems to be the last instance which was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Musk, as within a short period of time he contacted the Bee to confirm that they were truly banned and he made his offer the very next day.

What Musk realizes is that if people go to Twitter to take part in these national conversations, but only one perspective is allowed to be publicly held, people are not really being presented with choices, as a democratic form of government requires. Instead, it’s a technocracy, where you are only allowed to hold views shared by those controlling the platform.

Meanwhile, conservative Twitter users are already noticing a difference in their “reach” on the site – how many people’s timelines their posts show up on – as well as their follower count. Donald Trump, Jr. reported an increase of 87,000 followers on the day following the news that Musk’s deal had gone through. George Papadopolous gained 15,000 and Florida Governor Ron Desantis gained over 96,500. Meanwhile prominent accounts on the left reported losing followers by the thousands.

Twitter has not given an explanation for this, but the sudden change clearly represents something in the backend of Twitter code was changed in preparation for their new owner.

Musk’s successful purchase of Twitter is a feel good story for conservatives. It’s just nice to see a champion of free speech win out over liberal censorship for once! Yet, Christians must resist the urge to put our hope in men, particularly men like Elon Musk who might be a formidable opponent on many other social and moral issues. We can, however, praise God for using Elon Musk to score this point for free speech, and be encouraged to use that freedom to share the hope of Christ.

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