Op-Ed: Is Elon Musk's Twitter Just the Diet Version of Big Tech?


It’s been six months since Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, and one cannot help but find varying levels of optimism as to whether the business magnate is living up to his promises of a freer, more enjoyable social media experience.

While many of the company’s now-former executives have been critical of his leadership since Day 1, Twitter users from across the political spectrum have started airing some recent disapproval of their own.

It’s impossible to keep up with every controversial decision made under Musk’s direction, but there are a handful of examples from the last several weeks worth further scrutiny.

Twitter Bans Sean Davis, CEO of The Federalist

Several conservative Twitter users found themselves suspended or even banned in the aftermath of the tragic school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Among those was Sean Davis, CEO of The Federalist, who was banned for tweeting the fact that the shooting happened just days before the “Trans Day of Vengeance,” an event scheduled for April 1 that was later canceled. Twitter told Davis that in order to regain access to his account, he would have to manually delete the offending tweet.

Twitter’s action against Davis was met with harsh criticism. Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton called it an “unacceptable targeting of [Davis] for posting the truth.” Mollie Hemingway, editor-in-chief at The Federalist, posted a tweet highlighting how the platform did nothing to reprimand Josselyn Berry, former press secretary for Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, after Berry tweeted a picture appearing to threaten “transphobes.”

Davis himself did not mince words, either. Just one day after getting banned, he published an Op-Ed titled, “Twitter Cannot Be Saved. It’s Time For Free Speech Proponents To Let It Die.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Second Twitter Ban

Has Musk made Twitter a pro-free speech platform?

In the days after the shooting, Twitter also placed a seven-day ban on the official government account of Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene for sharing a graphic promoting the Trans Day of Vengeance.

“In the wake of a transgender shooter targeting a Christian school and murdering kids, every American should know the threat of Antifa driven trans-terrorism,” Greene later tweeted from her personal account. “Twitter should not whitewash the incitement of politically motivated violence.”

This, of course, came barely one year after Twitter permanently suspended Greene’s personal account for sharing “misinformation” about the COVID-19 pandemic, a suspension that Musk lifted after purchasing Twitter in November.

Twitter Removes Over 5,000 Tweets for Sharing a Graphic

But Davis and Greene were far from the only Twitter users to face punishment for posting about the Trans Day of Vengeance. According to Ella Irwin, Twitter’s new head of trust and safety, Twitter removed more than 5,000 tweets containing the graphic, all in an effort to crack down on attempts to “incite violence.”

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Unfortunately, this caused large numbers of tweets condemning the event and the shooter to be removed as well, and many accounts faced temporary or permanent suspension.

Journalists Wesley Yang, Luke Rosiak and Andy Ngo found themselves suspended over this (Ngo was also suspended from Twitter in 2019 over a heated exchange with former first daughter Chelsea Clinton). Michael Knowles, political commentator at The Daily Wire, was even suspended for tweeting a Bible verse containing the word “vengeance.” The verse was Romans 12:19, which reads, “Vengeance is mine. I will repay, says the Lord.”

Twitter Punishes Libertarians Over Leaked Documents

The Libertarian Party Mises Caucus is a caucus within the Libertarian Party focused on Austrian economics, opposition to war, decentralization and private property rights. Today, this caucus is also leading the party.

Just weeks ago, however, they found themselves locked out of their Twitter account after sharing leaked government documents regarding the war in Ukraine. Like so many others, the page administrators were told they would not regain access until they deleted the post. After a week, the caucus was finally restored to the platform.

In an exchange with Irwin last month, the Mises Caucus was told that their tweet violated Twitter’s “distribution of hacked materials policy,” a rule established in October 2020. This means that Musk’s Twitter is still using rules established by the company’s former leadership to determine what constitutes free speech.

While Musk has certainly excited millions of people with an optimistic vision of what Twitter can be, substantive improvements in the way Twitter treats its users seem to have yet to take shape.

In the meantime, we should all ask ourselves if it is right to hold our breath and hope that Musk will, like he has with some of his other business ventures, carry Twitter to new horizons. Or should we (as some have suggested) finally abandon Twitter in search of better platforms?

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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Sovren founder and CEO Ben Swann has spent more than 20 years as a broadcast journalist, speaking truth to power both behind and in front of the camera. A two-time Emmy Award winner and three-time recipient of the distinguished Edward R. Murrow Award, Ben has anchored several Fox, CBS and NBC-affiliated stations across America, shattering the “left vs. right” paradigm with hard-hitting, world-class coverage on issues like voter suppression, the war on drugs, foreign policy and the deep state.