This week, in one of the most shocking business moves in recent memory, Twitter reversed itself and decided to sell itself after all to Elon Musk, who paid some $44 billion for the privilege. The move was made, at least in part, for ideological reasons; Musk has been vocally critical of Twitter’s management of information flow. Immediately upon the news of the buyout breaking, Musk tweeted, “Free speech is the bedrock of a functional democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated. I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans.”
All of these seem like worthwhile and anodyne goals. More speech, not less. More transparency, not less.
And yet the political left went utterly insane. Charles Blow of The New York Times vowed to leave the service; in fact, #LeavingTwitter trended on the service. The American Civil Liberties Union, while noting that Musk is a card-carrying member, fretted, “there’s a lot of danger having so much power in the hands of any one individual.” Meanwhile, powerful individual with consolidated power Jeff Bezos worried over the possibility of Chinese influence on Twitter: “Interesting question. Did the Chinese government just gain a bit of leverage over the town square?” Sen. Elizabeth Warren called the deal “dangerous for our democracy.” MSNBC’s Ari Melber hilariously agonized, “You could secretly ban one party’s candidate, or all of its candidates, all of its nominees, or you could just secretly turn down the reach of their stuff and turn up the reach of something else and the rest of us might not even find out about it until after the elections.”