Buying Twitter, Elon Musk Will Face Reality of His Free-Speech Talk

“In order for our democracy to work, we need to protect freedom of speech,” said Jamil Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. “But there is still a long way to go to cover the decisions that social media companies have to make every day.”

Almost no place on the Internet or in the physical world is a realm of free expression. The challenge of online expression is the challenge of expression, the duration, the questions that have a few simple answers: When is more speech good and when is it bad? And who decides?

In countries with strong courts, civic groups and the news media to hold politicians accountable, it can be relatively benign when elected leaders speak to their opponents online. But in countries such as Myanmar, Saudi Arabia and Somalia, government leaders have turned to social media as a weapon to incite their critics to incite relentless verbal harassment, often unchecked or racial violence.

If Twitter wants to withdraw from moderate speech on its site, will people be less willing to hang out where they disagree with them and be harassed by pitch for cryptocurrency, fake Gucci handbags or pornography?

The 2016 U.S. presidential election and the Brexit vote that same year gave Silicon Valley executives, U.S. elected officials and the public a glimpse of what happens when social media companies choose not to think more deeply about what people say on their sites. Can go wrong. Russian campaigners broadened the views of deeply divided Americans and Britain, further polarizing voters.

Meanwhile Mr. Trump’s presidency – especially in the early months of the coronavirus epidemic and then as Mr. Trump and his supporters spread false allegations about voter fraud in the 2020 election – Twitter, Facebook and YouTube changed their tone about the role they played in inciting anger, lies, distortions and divisions that made some people feel tired and arrogant about the world around them. .

Twitter and Facebook, frequently pressured by their employees, took further steps to pull down or label posts that could violate their rules against false information and tinker with computer systems to prevent and spread viral lies. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube also Mr. Trump landed on his platform after the Jan. Capitol riots. 6, 2021.

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