Jack Dorsey “gives in” to Elon Musk! Here’s Why The “Deal” Is A Blow To Free Speech and How Donald Trump Would Be Elated And Xi Jinping Happy !!


Photo by Edgar Moran on Unsplash

Finally, Jack Dorsey, Twitter founder and arguably the voice that matters (and the vote that counts!!) on the Board “accepted” Tesla’s Elon Musk’s “best and final offer” to buyout the Social Media firm and pioneer of information platforms. While the nearly $46 Billion “deal” is pocket change for Musk, there are bigger issues than the money involved here. After all, Twitter is the “place” where everyone and their dog “rants and raves” on just about everything in the universe. Indeed, this deal is a blow to free speech and one more nail in the coffin of the independence of Big Tech. More than that, Musk is likely to “invite” the likes of Donald Trump back into the fold and much like the “prodigal son coming home”, the latter would be very pleased, nay elated, to be back where he belongs. Already there is enough “chatter” about Trump making a comeback to Twitter, despite Musk making all the “right noises” about free speech et al. Moreover, another individual who would be happy with this development is Xi Jinping as Twitter has been banned in China since 2009, and given that Tesla and Musk have large business interests there, one can reasonably expect Xi to extend an invite and reach out with a hand of friendship, if not for anything but, the sheer symbolism of such a move, where he can cock a snook at much of the planet.

The point here is that Big Tech already has way too much power over us and once, they become the “toys” of uber rich Billionaires, the stakes rise for all concerned as the marriage of money and such power means that people like you and me can only look agape at the obnoxious dalliance of ruthless individuals and the platforms that propel them to online stardom. Moreover, Dorsey, for all his faults, has kept Twitter relatively clean and free from hate and vitriol, though the operative term here is “relative” to the likes of Facebook, the other social media behemoth that now has god like powers over what we read, what we consume, and indeed, what and how we think!! Studies have shown that we are being “persuaded” to think according to what gets posted and more importantly, what gets promoted on social media. To explain, social media giants use algorithms to curate and promote certain posts and tweets over others, and while Mark Zuckerberg and his fellow tech titans can claim that the algorithms are value neutral, there is enough evidence to show that algorithmic bias is real and does indeed exist.

For instance, there are published research papers and books which have proved that Google’s search engines have implicit biases related to racial and gender aspects and that Facebook promotes content that helps it monetize better, and this can include hate speech and plain disinformation. Look no further than the 2016 Presidential Election in the United States, where social media was proven to have played a major role in helping Trump win. Moreover, Facebook has been accused of “favoring” certain political parties worldwide so many times over the last few years. This was not the case for the first decade or so of Big Tech’s evolution. I still remember how Twitter was used in the Arab Spring of 2011 and before that, in the Iranian protests against the then ruling dispensation in 2009, so much so that the magazine, Foreign Policy, did a cover story on whether “Twitter can change the world”!! Of course, much like the doomed Arab Spring gave way to more authoritarianism, Big Tech too smelt the money and went the way of the Gilded Age’s much vaunted firms, who were the forerunners of today’s mega rich. So, remember, Musk is as much in the game for power as he is for money, and so, goodbye to any hopes of Twitter remaining free from bigots and racists of all hues.

At the same time, this deal is also a warning sign for anyone who decides to take on Big Tech. Though the European Union has been cracking down on Tech more than anybody else (remember the first and most successful anti trust action came from the EU against Microsoft), it is anybody’s guess as to the outcome since Big Tech can simply move to other markets (note I use the term markets rather than countries deliberately) like China, for the reasons I mentioned earlier. All said and done, as someone remarked on Twitter (the irony of it all!!) this is not a good time to be “woke and liberal”. especially in the context of CNN + shutting down and Disney being hounded. Perhaps the next liberal Tech billionaire walks the talk instead of preaching platitudes and making deals on the side. Or, we must explore Open Source alternatives (yes!! I know that Musk has promised to make the algos open source) or just be keyboard warriors for whom nothing changes ever. To conclude my rant (oops post!!) I would again go back in time and note with nostalgia that my fellow Gen Xers who grew up without the internet, and yet, heralded the Digital Age in the 1990s, were full of hope about technology being a game changer. Indeed, we all believed that the internet would change the world and as we now cruise through middle age, the only thing that changed (both for us and the tech titans) is the bank balance and nothing else. Amen!!



2 thoughts on “Jack Dorsey “gives in” to Elon Musk! Here’s Why The “Deal” Is A Blow To Free Speech and How Donald Trump Would Be Elated And Xi Jinping Happy !!

Leave a Reply