Why Twitter Isn't Quite the Free Speech Platform Elon Musk Makes it Out to Be
Elon Musk: "Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom of reach."
Many conservatives have turned Elon Musk into a hero for taking over Twitter and turning it into the digital public square. The social media platform has become to closest thing to a free speech platform out of all the Big Tech companies. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as “free speech” as we’re being led to believe.
Yes, Musk has allowed many back on the platform that were permanently suspended, including yours truly. If you remember, I was kicked off the platform a few years ago for my podcast with Black conservative Senatorial candidate Jimmy Lee Tillman III for discussing the Tuskegee Experiments and why the Black community is so hesitant to get the covid “vaccine.”
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Free Speech is more than just allowing the majority of people to speak their mind. Obviously, overt censorship such as suspensions and deleting posts are bad. But then there’s also the “Community Notes" which have been seemingly weaponized against those going against the mainstream narrative.
The idea of Community Notes makes sense: crowdsource the content moderation and force the censors to provide documentation to back up their claims. Unfortunately, this has led to a somewhat confusing definition of what the truth actually is, as it continues to be a subjective idea as opposed to something concrete and objective.
Repeatedly, posts that should be hit with a Community Note are ignored, largely those that fit in with the Mainstream Narrative, while those that are exposing the truth are hit with a Community Note. Having this pop up gives the viewer an immediate reaction of “this is questionable at best.” Why not let the tweet stand on its own merits and simply allow those who disagree to respond? Why do we need this added layer of censorship.
There’s also more subversive tactics that Twitter is using to control and manipulate content on the platform. The obvious one is shadowbanning. As Elon Musk has explained, the Twitter policy is that you have freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach. This means that, while they’ll allow you to say virtually anything you want, they don’t have to allow people to see what you’re writing.
Now think about this… what does that actually mean? There’s a famous question that asks: If a tree falls in the middle of a forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound? The same could be said on Twitter: If someone Tweets something, but nobody is allowed to see it… is that actually free speech?
I use the analogy of Elon Musk setting up a stage with a microphone and speakers in the middle of Times Square in NYC. He tells everyone, “Come speak your mind. This is a free speech stage… you can say whatever you want.” However, if someone hops up there are starts saying something controversial or something that Musk disagrees with, he turns off the microphone. When the speaker questions why nobody can hear him, the response is, “I’m not stopping you from saying whatever you want. You have the freedom of speech. But I didn’t promise to keep the microphone on.”
Now, is that actually in the spirit of free speech? It’s clearly not. But that’s exactly what Musk & Co are doing on Twitter.
Obviously, there are other forms of censorship going on, as well. Another big one is demonetization, which obviously YouTube has become notorious for. However, Twitter is also participating in this. My good friend Matt Couch, who runs the news site TheDCPatriot.com, is not allowed to have the paid subscription button on Twitter (neither am I). The reasoning he got from the Twitter Team is that he’s too political. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.
Now, to make matters worse, they don’t allow people like Matt Couch and I to monetize on Twitter. But they also hinder our ability to monetize off the platform, as well. According to Elon, “Native content will be recommended much more than links outside of Twitter.” This means that links outside of Twitter are demoted within the algorithms, while native content to the platform is promoted.
As a business move, this is smart… the more time a user spends on Twitter, the more money they make. At the same time, when you are not allowing content creators to monetize their content on the platform, their only option is to send their followers off of Twitter to articles, podcasts, videos and the like. When the platform hinders that, they are making it virtually impossible for content creators to support themselves financially. It’s a lose-lose situation unless you are a “favored one.”
All of these forms of censorship, plus many more that I have not highlighted, have all lead to the point to where I’m tired of just complaining about everything, but I need to actually do something about it. This has resulted in a new social content platform that we’re building called pickax, which is a constitutionally free speech platform not beholden to Big Tech, with algorithms working on your behalf instead of against you and monetization opportunities for content creators.
We’ve got a lot of plans to give you back your voice. But it all starts with the foundational Constitutional view of the First Amendment, which means no “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” My mission is to amplify your voice, not suppress it.
We are launching pickax in the beginning of 2024, and we’ll be announcing some of our one-of-a-kind features in the coming months. To be among the first people on the platform, you can sign up today and we’ll email you once we launch beta.
Free Speech is Free Speech. It’s not the government’s job to control your opinions, thoughts, words or written content. Neither is it the role of a social media platform.
Sign up for pickax, a constitutionally free speech social media platform that’s not beholden to Big Tech, has algorithms that work on your behalf and monetization opportunities for content creators. Launching beginning of 2024. Click here to sign up.