The Guardian Weekly - UK (2022-05-06)

(EriveltonMoraes) #1
6 May 2022 The Guardian Weekly

11


democracy, and Twitter is the digital
town square where matters vital to
the future of humanity are debated.”
Musk has a history of contentious
tweets but his Gadde post fuelled
concerns in some quarters about the
Tesla chief executive’s idea of free
speech. Will it come at the cost of pro-
tecting Twitter users from abuse and
extremist content?
“I think that Musk’s conception of
free expression is both contradictory
and foolish,” says Jillian York, a free
speech activist and the author of Sili-
con Values: the Future of Free Speech
Under Surveillance Capitalism. “Abso-
lutism on a platform like Twitter
fails to take into account the very

The big
story
Twitter

Big mouth


strikes


again


The billionaire buyer Elon Musk calls himself a ‘free speech


absolutist’ – but what does that mean exactly, and could it


lead him and the social network into a legal quagmire?


By Dan Milmo


Illustrations by
DOUG CHAYKA


C


ONTAINED WITHIN


95 PAGES OF DENSE


LEGAL JARGON , the
warning from Twit-
ter to Elon Musk
was clear: don’t use
your considerable
power on the social
media platform to attack the company.
The world’s richest man and
owner-in-waiting of Twitter signed
an agreement for the planned $44bn
takeover last month confirming
that he could tweet about the deal
so long as “such tweets do not dis-
parage the company or any of its
representatives”.
Yet hours later the self- described

“free speech absolutist” was engaging
with tweets criticising senior Twitter
staff , including an interaction with
a political podcast host who had
labelled the company’s legal head,
Vijaya Gadde , Twitter’s “top censor-
ship advocate”.
The inevitable consequence
for Gadde was one of the grimmer
phenomena of social media: a pile-
on. Comments included calls for her
to lose her job and, in a typical example
of unpleasant digital hyperbole, stat e-
ments that Gadde would “go down in
history as an appalling person”.
Announcing the deal to buy
Twitter last week, Musk said: “Free
speech is the bedrock of a functioning



PLUS


‘If he operates with the same hubris,
we might start looking elsewhere’
The experts on what lies ahead
Page 13 
Free download pdf