Elon Musk’s anti-censorship makes him establishment enemy number one

By: Rachel Marsden

PARIS — Nothing that Elon Musk is doing in the wake of his takeover of Twitter should be considered controversial. The fact that the world’s richest person and self-described “free speech absolutist” is currently taking endless flack for attempting to limit online censorship and gatekeeping in the interests of widening public debate is a testament to the fact that the prominent social media platform had become a gatekeeper for the Western establishment status quo and the primarily left-leaning ideals that they relentlessly champion.

“The Twitter Files on free speech suppression soon to be published on Twitter itself. The public deserves to know what really happened,” Musk tweeted last week. Shortly thereafter, Musk and journalist Matt Taibbi released internal communication of Twitter employees as the workers grappled with how to handle politically charged posts — like the New York Post’s now infamous story of having obtained a laptop computer belonging to then-presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, in the final days before the election. “Smoking-gun email reveals how Hunter Biden introduced Ukrainian businessman to VP dad,” the Post headline revealed.

Other American media outlets, like CBS, have since confirmed the authenticity of the documents and the laptop, but at the time, Twitter’s “Trust and Safety” department opted to censor the story from the platform. The department’s former head, Yoel Roth, who quit the company when Musk took over, now admits that he thinks it was a mistake to have removed it, and that he personally didn’t feel comfortable doing so.

Roth has recently acknowledged doubts, saying that the information “set off every single one of my finely tuned APT28 hack and leak campaign alarm bells.” At the time the Post story appeared, there had been years worth of warnings from U.S. law enforcement about Russian hackers determined to interfere with the U.S. presidential vote. After four years of nonstop rhetoric accusing former President Donald Trump’s campaign of “Russian collusion,” which Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation was ultimately unable to substantiate, the Twitter Trust and Safety team must have nonetheless been convinced that they were nothing less than foot soldiers policing the very front lines of democracy.

Wouldn’t it have been nice to have had a full debate and discussion back then about any revelations related to Biden family involvement in Ukrainian business affairs? Given that the current conflict in Ukraine popped off under the watch of the Biden administration, and was ultimately the result of a U.S.-led buildup of NATO training and equipping of fighters on Russia’s border, an examination of what Western actors close to power, like Hunter Biden, were doing over there in the years leading up to the conflict, may have been able to shed some light on any shady dealing that risked setting off a conflict. Instead, that entire debate was filed away as fake news. Anyone subsequently bringing up “Hunter Biden’s laptop” is now easily dismissed as a fringe conspiracy theorist with an ax to grind.

What exactly qualified these folks at Twitter or anywhere else in the tech world to pass judgments on the legitimacy of content? Adhering to a set of standards set forth by state institutions whose primary interest is always protecting or promoting an agenda is no way to ensure its credibility. How are governments supposed to be held to account if there’s pressure for online platforms to censor information that doesn’t fall within the norms of what these same governments would consider legitimate?

Those who live and work in the tech space and in San Francisco’s Silicon Valley tend to adhere to the same progressive worldview as the establishment in charge in the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe. They’re in perfect alignment with their overlords — too perfect — to the detriment of much-needed pushback or contradictory debate. Twitter’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions and mandates is yet another example of irresponsible gatekeeping under the guise of “safety”.

What qualified Twitter employees to act as judge, jury, and Twitter account and information executioner during the pandemic? Dismissing as “misinformation” anything that falls outside of government guidelines is no way to guarantee the truth. We know this now, in retrospect. How many times has the government itself moved the goalposts on everything from the effectiveness of jabs, lockdowns, and masks to interpretation of Covid-related data?

Last month, Twitter policy was quietly modified. “Effective November 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the COVID-19 misleading information policy,” announced the platform.

What gave Twitter the right or credibility to arbitrate it in the first place?

Western institutions are now so rife with conflicts of interest, corruption, and ineptitude that they’re hardly in a position to act as ultimate arbiters of truth themselves. Public debate doesn’t need hall monitors and the public doesn’t need overlord rules by special interests telling them what to think or say.