Elon Musk, the richest man in the world, with a fortune of $250 billion, according to Forbes magazine, bought Twitter for $44 billion.
Should we be concerned about this issue? I think so, as these social media outlets -Twitter, Facebook, Instagram – have a huge influence around the world, including America.
I do not dispute the right of anyone to earn as much money as they can, as long as, of course, they obtain it legally.
However, serious questions arise as to whether the interests of society are served when the control of information, either as news or as commentary, passes into the hands of a small group of people, even if they are possessed of the best of intentions.
Musk argues that his buying Twitter will help better serve the right to free speech than it has so far. That anyone who has an account on twitter.com will be able to express themselves without the risk of being terminated or ‘cancelled’.
He is obviously implying that this has not been the case so far, and indeed that is true if one considers that Twitter cut off Donald Trump’s account by explaining that through the platform the former president sowed discord and hatred in society by spreading false information. (As he did.)
This raises both the question of whether uncontrolled freedom of speech can harm the interests of a society, as well as whether one or a few people should be able to exert so much influence in society.
The first question contains an irony, as man has shed much blood over the centuries for the right to freedom of speech. On the other hand, no constitution or great political philosopher says that any right should be completely unlimited.
As for the second question – whether one or a few people should be able to exert so much influence – these people gained their fairytale wealth through revolutionary discoveries that changed the course of humanity. But are they also prepared for the role of taking society’s driver’s seat, if such a thing really needs to be done?
Both Twitter and Facebook are full of hatred, lies, misinformation, and defamation. Should these be protected in the name of freedom of speech? And if so, at what cost?
But the most important question regarding these sites is, who has the right to decide what is posted on a platform?
These are very difficult questions. And yet, a lot is at stake. That is why a more general discussion is needed on the issue – in society, but also in Congress and the various parliaments around the world.