“Everyone talking about whether to leave the platform is missing the point. Everyone talking about whether this is a new era for free speech is missing the point. A child […] is about to have the largest vehicle for temper tantrums anyone ever had.” – tweet, Laura Jedeed.
“The thought of Twitter led by someone devoid of empathy is terrifying.” – tweet, Brianna Wu.
“A lot of people are incorrectly framing Elon Musk purchasing Twitter as being left versus right. It's about the richest man in the world wanting to be sure that powerful white men can say whatever they want - about whoever they want - without consequence.” – pull quote from podcast, Shaun King.
“Collective noun for people who misdefine ‘free speech’ on Twitter: A musk of trolls.” – tweet, Tom Levenson.
(Added on day of publication) “I’m stunned that amidst the coverage of Elon Musk buying Twitter, his very clear ties to Beijing have gotten so little attention.” – tweet, Isaac Stone Fish
All immediate reactions, all good. What do I think? Well, I think that, at least, criticism of Elon Musk will draw a swift reaction from the New Management at Twitter. Likely enough pro-union and anti-racist talk will be modded down. Musk has hinted he will bring Donald Trump back. Musk, a petulant and vindictive man-child, may personally attack critics on Twitter; he is rich enough to destroy the life of anyone of modest means.
Equally seriously, if Musk allows the worst of the haters back, we can expect to see spillover into the wider world of discourse. Without moderation, Twitter is an excellent platform for organizing mass harassment and we may expect that, especially from Donald Trump if he returns.
We need to take the regulation of social media seriously. The likes of Musk and Zuckerberg ought not have such an outsize role in shaping our public discourse.