How right-wing conspiracy theories led Elon Musk to destroy Twitter
A recent report has uncovered that a simple text recommendation to a right-wing website led the world's richest man to re-instate the accounts of known Neo-Nazis and tank one of the world's biggest social media platforms.
It has been one year since Elon Musk – owner of Tesla, SpaceX, and the world’s largest ego – finalised his purchase of the social media platform Twitter, now ‘X’. Given his failed attempt to back out of the deal, alongside only offering vague mentions of ‘free speech’ and ‘echo chambers’ when questioned about his plans for the platform, you would be forgiven for assuming Musk didn’t know what he was doing. That assumption would be right, however recent work by journalist Ben Collins shows Musk did in fact have a gameplan all along.
In his article for NBC news, Collins reveals that on the day Musk became Twitter’s biggest shareholder, he received text messages recommending an article by the right-wing website revolver.news, offering what Collins describes as “a playbook for the takeover and transformation of Twitter.” As Collins states, in the 18 months since receiving those texts, “many of the decisions Musk made after he bought Twitter appear to have closely followed that road map.” While it is interesting to discover that Musk may in fact be following an actual plan, reading the ‘playbook’ from which he appears to be working only serves to confirm suspicions many have formed during his Twitter premiership; Elon Musk does not understand social media. More importantly however, viewing the changes he has made to Twitter in light of the revolver article confirms another fairly popular suspicion; Elon Musk is a right-wing conspiracy theorist who is incapable of comprehending, let alone understanding or empathising with, the political opinions of anyone who disagrees with him. The article in question repeatedly references the “Globalist American Empire” as the culprit of wokeness, and argues that this “Regime” is behind the “massive censorship and suppression” responsible for “Covid tyranny, the Ukraine war fever, and the idea that Lia Thomas is a "woman"." The ‘playbook’ revolver.news provides is actually a 4-step description of the “cancellation strategies the Regime systematically employs to control politicians, websites, major businesses, and even countries.” Essentially, it acts as Musk’s guide for navigating the inevitable coordinated attacks he and Twitter will face in their attempt to create a “real free speech platform.” Each step is predicated on the assumption that there exists a shadowy illuminati-like ‘Globalist Elite’, whose sole purpose is to censor and suppress right-wing thought.
This is, of course, untrue. It goes without saying, but the popularity of progressive political beliefs such as ‘Covid is real’ and ‘trans people exist’ is not due to Globalist Elite brainwashing, but the actual lived experience of real people capable of forming their own opinions and beliefs. However, if you thought that Musk, the richest man in the world at the time of the acquisition, couldn’t sincerely believe the world was controlled by a ‘woke’ elite who aimed to censor and suppress guys like him, you would be wrong. The self-proclaimed “free-speech absolutist” has on numerous occasions outlined his belief that Twitter’s previous ownership censored and suppressed right-wing figures and ideas. Shortly after his takeover, Musk began heavily promoting the so-called ‘Twitter Files’, a series of supposed exposes authored by journalists hand-picked by Musk, one of whom claimed to prove that “Twitter’s former leadership curtailed public debate; drew arbitrary lines about what’s fake and what’s real; and gaslit ordinary Americans.” In the name of ‘free-speech’, Musk decimated Twitter’s content moderation policies and reinstated many previously banned accounts, including multiple known neo-Nazi’s. This of course caused major backlash from Twitter users and advertisers – as the revolver article predicted in “Step 1: Blame the platform for its users”, where it claimed that “The moment Twitter stopped telling users what they were supposed to think, elites would immediately treat Twitter as responsible for […] every so-called act of “racism” “sexism” and “transphobia” occurring on its platform.” For most people, this ‘backlash’ is quite clearly the consequence of platforming abhorrent content, and was easily predictable. For Musk however, the article’s ability to forsee the obvious served as evidence that they were right; The Globalist Regime was trying to take him down.
In steps 2 and 3 (“Coordinated pressure campaign” and “Exodus of the Bluechecks”), the article claims that “Once Musk’s new free-speech platform is established as a bad actor, a vast constellation of activists and non-profits will lurch into action to put more and more pressure on the company to change its ways”, once again attributing the response of normal people horrified by bigotry to a coordinated attack by ‘the Regime’. Musk appeared to heed their warning. He threatened to sue organisations that spoke out against Twitter – such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Centre for Countering Digital Hate – for “damaging X’s relationship with advertisers.”His changes to Twitter’s bluecheck verification system, which he claims were made in an effort to ‘democratise twitter’, have resulted in Twitter algorithmically amplifying only the voices of those willing to pay for the privilege. Conveniently, the Venn diagram of people happy to pay for Twitter and ardent fans of Elon Musk is pretty much a circle, due to the fact that voluntarily paying for the previously free service essentially amounts to support for the direction of the platform under Musk’s ownership. This has meant that those most likely to oppose Musk’s changes to Twitter are also the least likely to have their opinions shown at the top of any comment section. Despite what revolver.news claims, Twitter was not in the business of intentionally manufacturing consent for particular political ideologies – its sole aim was to increase engagement in order to sell data to advertisers. Twitter was not ‘suppressing’ right-wing posts and accounts for the purpose of encouraging the ‘woke’ agenda, it was removing bigoted content because that content risked upsetting users and therefore spooking advertisers.
By purchasing Twitter, Musk hoped he could free its users from the censorship and suppression that had for so long kept them from the truth. He believed himself the saviour of free speech, a shining light to guide the masses away from the shadows of wokeness. This belief is a necessary one. Without it, Musk’s worldview - formed through a diet of sycophantic Redditors and Ayn Rand’s Wikipedia page - falls apart. As do his plans for creating a ‘public town square’ which is also a ‘free-speech utopia’. Musk needs to believe that ‘woke’ opinions are the result of a coordinated campaign by the Globalist Regime, and not beliefs that people have come to of their own accord. Otherwise, he might have to confront the actual opinions themselves. For Musk, and those like him, it is far easier to simply invent an imagined enemy, and never run the risk of empathising with the problems real people face.
Article by Louis Breyer
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