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Elon Musk: king of free speech or megalomaniac?

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Elon Musk: king of free speech or megalomaniac?


It’s finally happened, the sale of Twitter is complete. The social media platform was bought this year by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has vowed to allow ‘humour back to the platform’.

It was a busy day at Twitter HQ when entrepreneur Elon Musk took to the halls. The new owner of the social media platform wasted no time at all making his mark on the company. Day one on the job, Musk axed most of the leadership staff, which included chief executive officer, finance chief and two senior legal staffers. He then asked all managers to draw up lists as he prepares to axe a rumoured 50 percent of the staff.

It’s not just the staff at Twitter who are feeling the new management. Users on the platform are nervous about it becoming a place where hate speech is allowed, after Musk declared that all previously permanently suspended accounts would be given access again. Many of these accounts were deleted after they were pinged for racist or violent tweets, or in the case of former US President Donald Trump, for the spread of misinformation.

Elon Musk and the search for free speech

Musk is a self-declared “free speech absolutist”, which has raised concerns about the platform. His initial expression of interest in the purchase of Twitter revolved around concerns of free speech. Earlier in 2022, Musk was asked by controversial podcaster Joe Rogan if he was going to “liberate Twitter from the censorship happy mob.”

“I will provide advice. They may or may not choose to follow it,” Musk told Rogan.

Since the acquisition, Musk has spent his time tweeting jokes regarding his quest for free speech. From sarcastically calling free speech ‘so brave’ to saying that comedy is now ‘legal on Twitter’, the CEO’s series of tweets has alienated Twitter users as they become concerned about the potential rise of bigotry and racism with the new, more relaxed rules.

Advertisers pull ads 

It’s only taken three days of Musk being in charge of the platform for advertisers to pull campaigns. General Motors (GM) has declared to pull its advertisers for the foreseeable future on the platform while it looks at where the new direction will take Twitter. 

Other businesses are expected to follow in the footsteps of GM, as individual Twitter users bid adieu to the platform, not wanting to see where the new direction will go.

The question remains, is free speech something completely necessary? What separates free speech from hate speech? The power given back to the people could mean that toxic and hateful speech spread like wildfire on the platform. This has left people around the world asking if what Musk is doing is providing freedom, or pushing his power too far and encouraging hate.


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Liv Croagh

Liv Croagh was the Managing Editor of Marketing Mag from September 2021 to September 2023.

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