Elon Musk Gives His Definition of Free Speech

Elon Musk Gives His Definition of Free Speech
Elon Musk spoke about his definition of free speech at a TED live event this afternoon. (Photo: SOPA Images, Getty Images)

Following his $US43 ($60) billion offer to buy Twitter, Elon Musk shared his perspective on the future of the social network on Thursday during a live TED event.

When TED’s Chris Anderson probed Musk (a self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist”) on how the website would approach free speech under his ownership, Musk didn’t seem particularly concerned, stating:

A good sign as to whether there is free speech is, is someone you don’t like allowed to say something you don’t like? If that is the case, we have free speech. It’s damn annoying when someone you don’t like says something you don’t like. That is the sign of a healthy, functioning free speech situation.

Musk branded his buyout of Twitter around filling the need for an “inclusive arena of free speech,” and also expressed interest in open-sourcing the Twitter algorithm to reduce any behind-the-scenes manipulation. Musk also described his interest in shutting down “spam and scam bots,” as well as integrating an edit button to tweets.

When asked about the potential for abuse of an edit button, the Tesla CEO appeared uncomfortable and half-heartedly suggested that all retweets and likes will be removed from an edited tweet to prevent people from pulling a bait-and-switch with a viral tweet. He also said he has a “plan B” if his hostile takeover of Twitter fails but declined to say what that entails.

Meanwhile, the only American President to be banned from Twitter told Americano Media on Wednesday that he has no interest in returning to Twitter as many of his fans are begging Musk to make it happen. Former President Trump explained that Twitter has silenced some of his favourite conservative voices (he seemingly uses the words “good” and “conservative” as synonyms) and reminisced about the good times when he and his constituents “would go after” left-leaning profiles. “Twitter’s become very boring,” he said.

Trump was permanently banned from Twitter in January 2021 following the riots at the US Capitol “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” the company said. It was exactly that moment that the clouds parted, the sun shined a little brighter, and the dumpster fire of Twitter discourse was downgraded to a more manageable trashcan fire. Earlier this month, Twitter told the Daily Mail that the company has no plans to reinstate Trump’s notorious account.

Of course, Trump is still claiming that his Twitter-clone platform Truth Social is still the future. MAGA fans who’ve actually managed to log in to the platform, have been disappointed to find that Trump doesn’t use Truth either. Considering the fact that Truth’s moderation policies are more strict than those of Twitter, it’s probably for the best that he lays low.