In a recent post on Twitter, the new CEO of Twitter urged his followers to vote Republican, spelling serious questions about his supposed neutrality in moderation.
Elon Musk is not having a good time. From his disastrous and costly purchase of Twitter to his constant fighting with his critics on the site, the CEO of Tesla is falling short of the glorious free speech revolution his followers predicted. But things have gotten worse for his brand and Twitter as a whole, as the newly-established CEO of Twitter decided to overtly endorse the Republican Party a day before the midterms.
This endorsement by Musk comes as a massive shift in social media policy, as social media moguls have traditionally attempted to avoid the appearance of partisanship. Musk, however, has previously shown himself to be erratic in his conduct, and that could explain some of his decision-making. In one infamous incident, Musk reportedly went into a profanity-laced rant about Covid lockdowns and restrictions, calling them “fascist.”
Potentially erratic behavior making aside, both in his relationship with Covid-19 and Twitter, Musk’s decision to overtly support a political party the day before the election should be a reminder that Musk’s supposed neutrality in issues of influencing media is and always has been a farce.
Musk may assert that his endorsement is merely to balance out the partisan makeup of the government, but if he had any understanding of politics, he would know that Presidents and their parties tend to fare poorly in the midterms and that supposed balance does not always lead to effective governance. More importantly still, Musk’s decision to frame his endorsement with a supposed centrist mindset, meaning a faux mindset of balancing the interests of the two parties, is, in all likelihood, a mechanism for him to deny the severity of his decision to endorse the Republicans in the first place.
Tweeting out to millions of followers, with the full recognition that Musk controls the platform, is a sign that the CEO is not only willing to use Twitter as his personal political weapon but also serves as a reminder about how dangerous unrestrained social media leadership can be.
Whereas previous social media debacles on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have called into question how serious social media companies are about moderating their platform, the destruction of those moderation teams is not a solution, as I noted before. We are witnessing a perfect example of grifting, faux libertarian advocacy, and an overt appeal to partisanship for the sake of Elon’s frothing fans. Such negligence on a site that houses millions of people’s viewpoints, perspectives, and in the case of freelance writers, careers is an affront to the dignity of every single person who has to endure it.
And while I won’t be leaving the site anytime soon, it should surprise absolutely nobody that Twitter is going into the dirt because of this spoiled manchild.