Niklas's blog

Elon Musk and Twitter: mercurial 'morality'


Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter, says their decision to ban Donald Trump was ‘morally bad and foolish in the extreme’1.

“I do think it was not correct to ban Donald Trump,” he said. “I think that was a mistake. It alienated the country and did not result in Donald Trump not having a voice.

I have no idea what 'alienated the country' means.

I guess Musk meant to say that the choice to ban Trump was bad. As I aim to show in this blog post, I think it's fair to say one can't deem Musk an agent of morality. His ideas of right and wrong are mercurial, to say the least. As such, Twitter in his hands, or even the idea of what Twitter should be, is like a toy in the hands of an angry toddler.

Twitter carries a lot of weight in the world of politics. The last American election may have been swayed due to how Trump used it as his favourite communications platform from which he spread extremely slanderous and murderous lies about everything from his political adversaries to COVID-19.

Trump broke Twitter's rules repeatedly and therefore got banned. I loathe Twitter because they claim to have rules that they uphold. They often don't. Proof of this is how they constantly temporarily banned a Twitter account that retweeted everything that Donald Trump tweeted, and yet Twitter didn't touch Trump until the last minute, when he was permanently banned. Fairly likely, 'permanently' is a misnomer.

Twitter's decision to ban Trump was ethically correct. It was in line with their rules, even though the decision came far too late. Trump knew the rules, signed them when he created his Twitter account, and then screamed bloody murder as he'd fallen on his own sword.

Musk claims to be a 'free speech absolutist', another term that he's not explained in the least. When looking at Musk's track record, it's clear to see that he likes to constrict others 2 who criticize him and his companies.

Musk says Twitter should be free, meaning it should have no restrictions other than legal ones. He says this from the perspective of being a white, middle-aged male who also happens to be ultra-wealthy. I don't think he's spoken to intelligent people at Twitter who truly try to handle abuse on their platform. If he did, the results don't matter to him. Ever tried to have a nuanced conversation on Twitter? It works, sometimes, but the environment is poisonous. Mastodon works a lot better 3.

Musk has, so far, not displayed any interest in trying to control the mess that Twitter is. Don't get me wrong, I'm anarchist, but Twitter hurts a lot of people and is owned and wielded by capitalists. A capitalist company structure is fascist in nature; the one at the very top runs everything downwards. Twitter's future is now basically in the hands of a mercurial person, which partly is why I've mainly moved to Mastodon.

Let's see if we can find reasons for why Musk shouldn't talk about morals nor about ethics, until he's in detail apologised for his past behaviour; let's use some shownotes from Behind the Bastards, who made a two-part podcast thing about Musk 4:

  1. Tesla Labor Practices and Musk Tweet Broke the Law, Judge Rules
  2. The Trump administration reportedly spent months trying to make sure unauthorized immigrants couldn’t go to school
  3. Elon Musk, His Rocket, and the Grand Scheme that Tore Apart Boca Chica
  4. Elon Musk’s growing empire is fueled by $4.9 billion in government subsidies
  5. “I Was a Starter Wife”: Inside America’s Messiest Divorce
  6. A teenage Elon Musk once casually sold his father’s emeralds to Tiffany & Co. while his dad was sleeping
  7. Elon Musk’s family owns an emerald mine in Zambia — here’s the fascinating story of how they came to own it
  8. A Brief History of How Your Privacy Was Stolen
  9. The Evolution of Elon Musk: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
  10. Tesla workers speak out: ‘Anything pro-union is shut down really fast’
  11. Unpacking Elon Musk’s daylong Twitter rant on unions and US history
  12. Genuine question: Did Elon Musk’s family profit from South African apartheid?
  13. Elon Musk: The Architect of Tomorrow
  14. Elon Musk Accused Of Pushing, Verbally Abusing Senior Tesla Employee
  15. Court documents show Elon Musk privately called himself a ‘f—ing idiot’ after attack on British diver
  16. Tesla Protest
  17. Tesla Worker Group Calls For Elon Musk’s Arrest, Safety Inspection Before Reopening
  18. Tesla Factory Has Dozens of Environmental Violations

  1. Jolly, Jasper. 2022. “Elon Musk Pledges To Overturn Twitter’s Ban On Donald Trump.” The Guardian. May 10, 2022.

  2. Kolodny, Lora. 2022. “Elon Musk Says He Wants Free Speech, But His Track Record Suggests Otherwise.” CNBC.Com. April 25, 2022.

  3. Pardes, Arielle. 2022. “What Elon Musk Can Learn From Mastodon—and What He Can’t.” Wired. April 28, 2022.

  4. Part One: I Do Not Like Elon Musk Very Much and Part Two: I Do Not Like Elon Musk Very Much