Social media is a mess - Can Elon fix it?

By Mississippi Center for Public Policy
April 14, 2022

Elon Musk just announced he is offering to buy Twitter for $43 billion.

This is wonderful news – and anyone that believes in freedom and liberty should wish him well.

I’ve been on Twitter for over a decade, yet spend less and less time on it. What was once the most interesting social media site is often dull and occasionally a dump. It is not the folk that use Twitter that made it that way, but the people that run it. The success of the platform seems to have gone to their hipster heads.

Twitter users build up the number of people that follow them. It seems to me to be basic fair play that when you tweet something, it goes to those that signed up to follow you. Yet that no longer happens. Twitter management somewhere along the line decided that they would select what your followers did and did not get to see.

Putting twenty-something year old hipsters from California in charge of editorialising Twitter content has left the platform looking absurd. They have banned a former US President, yet are only too happy to keep hosting accounts that represent the leaders of Russia and Iran. Twitter users find themselves locked out of their accounts for stating basic biological facts.

Jonathan Haidt, one of my favourite thinkers, wrote a thoughtful essay in the Atlantic recently, attributing the polarization of America over the past ten years to the rise of social media. Instead of free speech, Twitter has produced fragmentation. Rather than a competition of ideas, Twitter has allowed some third rate hipsters to curate opinion.

I am delighted that Musk is trying to do something about it. Social media can – and I believe will – be so much better than it has become.

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