Musk says he’ll reverse Twitter ban on Trump

May 10, 2022 • 2:32 pm

According to the Washington Post, Elon Musk, who will be the new boss of Twitter, has announced that he’ll reverse Twitter’s ban on the lucubrations of former Lunatic-in-Chief Donald Trump.

Twitter’s decision to ban Trump from the platform early last year was a mistake, the Tesla CEO said during a virtual event Tuesday. The decision to do so alienated much of the country, and Trump still has a voice. And Trump has launched his own social media platform in the meantime, potentially prompting even greater problems, he added.

“I think it was a morally bad decision to be clear and foolish in the extreme,” he said at the event hosted by the Financial Times.

Twitter banned Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6 riots, citing the risk of further violence.

. . . [Musk] has seized on the platform’s importance to democracy and global debate and criticized what he has described as a left-wing bias in moderation decisions. Twitter has countered that its efforts have been aimed at minimizing harm and improving the user experience by limiting exposure to hate speech and harassment.

I am on Musk’s side in this one. If he truly wants to adhere to the courts’ First Amendment construal of free speech on Twitter, as he said he does, then there’s no reason to ban Trump. If Trump abrogates First Amendment principles in the future, he can go. You might say that his behavior on January 6 constituted the promulgation of predictable and imminent harm, though he’s not been convicted of that, but even if it did, I favor giving him a fresh start. After all, doesn’t America deserve the spectacle of seeing the man fulminate? And remember, half of America loves him.

Of course now people will hate Musk even more, though I don’t think he deserves it. This was a proper decision, and can be rescinded if Trump violates any of the forms of speech not protected by the First Amendment.

I suspect many readers will disagree with me.

143 thoughts on “Musk says he’ll reverse Twitter ban on Trump

  1. “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” and other Tweets advocating violence really, in my opinion, should have resulted in the ban. Giving Trump his Twitter mic back will likely result in a boost of energy to the right-wing militias who consider him their commander-in-chief.

      1. Too dangerous to allow them to speak in a public forum? Seriously? They should be silenced on Twitter? Do you think he and “his groupies” (who are you referring to) should all be silenced by the U.S. Government, too?

        1. Of course not, but there is an issue that emotive stories such as those discriminating against minorities gain extra traction because of the nature of the system. People who tweet these will tend to be more emotional ( have larger amygdalae) and less reasoning ( have smaller anterior cortices) This bubbled speech is difficult to debunk. All social media systems need something to alert people that stories are incorrect when they certainly are

          This paper may be informative

          1. I have a similar take. First of all, Twitter is emphatically not a space for intelligent debate, especially on politics. Reasonable dialogue makes up less than 5% of the political chat; the rest is abrasive, aggressive, vindictive, childish and ignorant. I hardly ever look at it now because I find depressing.
            It’s certainly the case that those who shout loudest, lack reason, and show more anger / disgust / disparagement, get noticed and drive the ‘conversation’ (if you can call it that). It would be hard to conceive of a model better at leveraging human instincts to increase polarisation.

            1. True. But unfortunately, most Twitter users are media people or activists, and what “happens” on Twitter is now regularly reported in the news. Twitter would lose all importance if all the journalists left.

        2. Yes, seriously, he is too dangerous as he incited a riot, regardless if he will ever be convicted for that. He has plenty of other places he can speak freely and does. Must he be allowed to do this everywhere? Either way, it is Musk’s decision whether one likes it or not. I hope it will not lead to protesting his decision. Seriously, you do not know who his groupies are? No, I do not think they should all be silenced by the US Govt.

        3. Except, Twitter isn’t a public forum. It’s a private one. The first amendment says nothing about a private entity controlling who gets to use their microphone.

    1. Perhaps he should have rather said, “When the looting starts, the excuse-making [for the looters] starts.”

  2. Much as I hate what Trump will tweet, I think it’s the right move. Just from a practical point of view, his supporters get more mileage out of his Twitter martyrdom than Trump does out of his tweets. The world hears what Trump says anyway.

    It will be interesting to see what Musk and the Twitter team do about misinformation. I hope they will label it and allow readers many options as to how they want to deal with it.

    In related news, Musk claims he’s “exactly aligned” with the EU on this subject:

    1. I got my doubts whether ol’ Elon truly comprehends what a “First Amendment standard” entails. We shall see, as a blind fella once said.

  3. Firstly they are going to hit problems with European hate speech laws. Whether they are correct or not. The British politician in charge of internet matters is really notoriously thick headed. She’s made gaffe after gaffe. She tweeted a picture accusing Sir Keir Starmer leader of the UK Labour party of breaking the lockdown rules last week that was taken with a famous colleague of his, a man who DIED in 2019!

    I am a little torn on absolute free speech. One of the issues is that emotive stories spread better than their responses and this promotes the right wing who are more sensitive to such things. (There’s research on brain structure supporting this) Having a free for all on news which Twitter actually is doesn’t necessarily mean that bad free speech can effectively be answered by better speech correcting it.

    To anyone with education a lot of Trump’s stuff is surely completely daft. The problem is that his core vote tends to be less educated and a lot less intelligent. They don’t seem to have a filter for nonsense. It is the same for creationism and all sorts of bad isms, racism anti-antisemitism etc

    This guy mentioned in this article on trial again at the moment here in the UK for being a member of a genuine National Socialist terrorist!

    I’d be nervous about giving those sorts of real life nazi activists a platform and twitter as it allows blocking of debunkers and has no fact checking system and is therefore dangerously useful to them.

    There are people in the UK on twitter tweeting things about the Starmer row which are incorrect often about the law which is black and white and they will block people who question them. There were special rules for the kind of thing he was doing, political campaigning. This happens over a whole range of issues. Twitter has bubbled speech not free speech. There are issues with the whole of social media and false information which need to be addressed.

  4. Sorry, IMO anyone with great public influence inciting violence and most likely the overthrow of our government, needs to be suspended from whatever platforms gives him the opportunity to foment insurrection.

    1. Sorry, but it’s not a violation of the First Amendment for a private citizen to advocate overthrow of the government. Are you saying that the U.S. government should also censor Trump now? And that one’s freedom of speech as a citizen depends on how influential one is?

      1. … it’s not a violation of the First Amendment for a private citizen to advocate overthrow of the government.

        Be forewarned, however, that 18 USC section 2385 has not been repealed.

        Also, 18 USC section 2384 makes it a crime for two or more people to conspire to overthrow the government by force.
        (Some of the Jan. 6th US Capitol rioters have been charged with this offense.)

      2. Sorry, but it’s not a violation of the First Amendment for a private citizen to advocate overthrow of the government.

        True. It’s not an “amendment violation” (I’m not quite sure how that translates to any other jurisdiction, if it’s actually a crime. But, “whatever”.) It’s the crime of sedition.

        1. No, it’s not. The crime of sedition in the US requires inciting violent overthrow (or participating in it, I guess).

          Like with standard incitement vs. free speech, simply talking about it in general terms does not count as the crime. “This administration is illegitimate and should be removed” is parallel to “[pick your bigot target] are scum, I wish someone would do something about them.” Protected speech, not the crime.

          Additionally, belonging to an organization that advocates for it without inciting it is also not sedition.

      3. Are you saying that the U.S. government should also censor Trump now?

        If he has been found to have broken laws after due process, the US government definitely has the right to “censor” Tr*mp, by which I mean put him in the slammer.

        And that one’s freedom of speech as a citizen depends on how influential one is?

        Let me see if I can make a devil’s advocate argument.

        If you are more influential, by definition, your speech has more impact. I think I could make a case that influential people have a duty of care to the people they influence and therefore the consequences of any irresponsible speech they make should be more severe.

        This already pertains in some cases. For example the CEO of a multi-billion dollar car company is expected not to irresponsibly tell the world he has funding to buy out that company when he hasn’t.

    2. This would be fair enough if the rule were applied equally, in a politically neutral fashion.

      For example, the day before the Floyd verdict, Maxine Waters effectively called for violence if the verdict was “not guilty”, at least as directly as Trump’s incitement of violence.

      Would social media ban Maxine Waters? Heck no, because they agree with her, whereas they hate Trump.

    3. Surely the proper way to deal with people who incite violence and conspire to overthrow the government is to charge them with the offence under the relevant laws, put them on trial and then in prison if found guilty.

  5. I think it was right to send Trump to the time out room and I have no skin in the game, people died on Capitol Hill… it was scary to watch a democracy get punched in the face and at a critical point of handing over the power reigns. MAGA my arse, more like how to bring it to it’s knees.
    Musk seems here to decide where free speech is allowed but really it’s a power and money decision.
    Free speech doesn’t belong to Musk it’s simply a policy decision.

    1. Just to be clear, the only people who died on Capitol Hill on January 6th were Trump supporters: one, Ashli Babbitt, shot by police, and another who had a heart attack outside. (Two other Trump supporters died of an overdose and a heart attack respectively the next day. One cop had a stroke the day after. Four cops committed suicide, one three days later, one eight days later, and two six months later. None of the cops committing suicide said it was because of the riot, though one can speculate.)

  6. I think Musk’s view of Twitter being vital to democracy and humanity’s future reflects the typical naval-gazing outsized ego of the Silicon Valley Libertarian set (he is no more than a speck in time just like you or me). On the constitutional issue of free speech, Twitter is not a government agency and is not bound by the first amendment—I do wish by Ceiling Cat that people understood this. Twitter has terms of service that describe their user’s limits. If El Duce Musk wants to enshrine his version of “free speech” he can certainly do so. My own view is he’ll play with Twitter, get tired of it and sell it for scrap.

    1. What are you really trying to say here? First, you seem to imply that only the government has free speech but then you admit that Twitter can have its own version of free speech. Then you suggest Musk will only mess with Twitter for a while. Even if that turns out to be true, what difference would it make? Musk selling Twitter after setting its direction would probably be a good thing. His leaving wouldn’t by itself change Twitter policies. If they worked, presumably its new owners would keep them.

      1. With all due respect, Paul, what I wrote is what I meant. Government doesn’t have free speech, citizens do. Their right to free speech is guaranteed by the state, with some limits. And yes, Twitter can put free speech protections—as they understand them (hence my putting it quotes)—in their terms of service. To me, it is ironic that Elon Musk goes on about Twitter being akin to a public square but wishes to make the company private. I am skeptical of people when they say “I’m the only who can do it”.

    2. On the constitutional issue of free speech, Twitter is not a government agency and is not bound by the first amendment—I do wish by Ceiling Cat that people understood this.

      I think people understand that just fine.

      But many people also think that near-monopoly companies *should* be regulated for the public good. Should a utility company with an effective local monopoly in supplying electricity or water be allowed to decline service to someone owing to their politics?

      A social-media company with the dominance of Twitter should be regulated for political neutrality along first-amendment lines.

      And yes, Twitter currently has terms of service, but they’re so vague that they amount to Twitter being able to ban people on their whim, and they are currently enforced in an arbitrary, biased and capricious manner.

      1. I haven’t read Twitter’s TOS but I’m thinking it needs to be vague. If it was specific, it could too easily be gamed. The trolls would constantly be creating new workarounds. They can be very creative. If you suppress a particular conspiracy theory, they’ll invent a variant. They’ll make up new words for violence or invading someone’s privacy. It is a struggle for social media companies to even detect such things reliably, let alone encode them in a TOS. Even if they could, it would be so long no one would even read it or understand it.

      2. I respectfully disagree: people do not understand free speech or the limits of their speech on social media platforms. Corporations certainly understand freedom of speech, but also work hard to curb the speech of workers, and certainly to drive their own narratives.

    3. People do understand that Twitter is not BOUND by the First Amendment: we’re not stupid here. But my view is that as far as possible, many institutions should use First Amendment principles. I believe I made that point in a post just yesterday. In the meantime, if Musk owns Twitter and changes its boundaries, that is his right, and if it blows up, well, that was his call.

      1. To be clear, I wasn’t calling anyone stupid. I have had arguments with people who believe that Twitter’s limits and bans in fact are a first amendment issue.
        I merely was making the point that social media companies do not have to guarantee speech on their platforms. Should they? I don’t know. Like all companies they care more about their image and how many users they can sale to to advertisers. I understand your desire for institutions to adhere to First Admendment principles, but corporations (and some individuals) do not care about free speech.

  7. I do agree with you. We reach societal consensus through the competition of ideas in the public square. We do not help ourselves by blocking expression of those ideas, no matter how egregious. (This applies to both sides of the political aisle.)

    1. This utopian idea of free speech always sounds nice on the surface but collapses in the face of real world examples. The public square can be abused to spread misinformation and propaganda that cannot be stopped by counter speech alone, or to intimidate and drown out reason with raw emotion and violence. Case in point: the history of fascism and the history of the internet. Why willingly surrender a privately owned platform to these forces?

      1. The history of fascism tells us that, if there are mechanisms to shut down “misinformation and propaganda” then the fascists will gain control of these mechanisms and use them to shut down anyone criticising them, while giving a free pass to their own misinformation and propaganda.

        So often, people making your argument just assume that its the good guys who will have their hands on the levers. Which is not a sensible assumption in a world containing Trump and Putin et al.

        And even politicians who most of us would regard as the good guys (or at least the better guys), still put out masses of “misinformation and propaganda” — pretty much all political parties do in today’s world.

        1. The history of fascism tells us that, if there are mechanisms to shut down “misinformation and propaganda” then the fascists will gain control of these mechanisms and use them to shut down anyone criticising them, while giving a free pass to their own misinformation and propaganda.

          I think there’s some truth to that in the sense that they First World War set certain precedents regarding the mobilization of society at all levels but Fascists in Germany mainly suppressed dissent through violence and intimidation via party apparatuses (not the state) and in Italy and Germany extralegal measures not preexisting mechanisms or laws.

          Where fascism was defeated in Europe it was in part because they were suppressed and outlawed by both military dictatorships (Romania) and liberal democracies (I.e. Britain). Fascism rose to power in Germany and Italy by feeding off the oxygen given to it by the press.

          Anyway I don’t deny your other point. There’s no easy answer here. I just don’t buy the idea that counter speech is sufficient when dealing fascism or something akin to it. I mean the Internet was founded on that ideal and social media giants, even Zuckerberg, have had to admit this was naive.

      2. Yeah, and who is going to decide what is “disinformation”? Like the liberal media did in the Hunter Biden laptop case. In fact, propaganda and misinformation have ALWAYS been part of public speech–newspapers used to be full of misinformation and disinformation (remember those “weapons of mass destruction”). Our republic has survived.

      3. The history of fascism shows that one of the primary tools the fascists used to gain and maintain power was to shut down speech they didn’t like.

        1. The problem is that fascist regimes also used the tactic of making stuff up. This was probably even more effective in helping regimes maintain power and control populations.

        2. I hope we can all agree that free speech is an essential component of democracy. But, there doesn’t seem to be enough discussion about free speech being manipulated to bring to power those who would end free speech. It is also not discussed enough that in the United States the ability to express the volume of free speech is correlated with the amount of money the speaker has. That is, the rich and corporations have a much larger megaphone than everyone else. This brings me to the conclusion that the statement “good speech drives out bad speech” by necessity is nothing more than an unsupported act of faith. Under certain circumstances this will be true, but under others undoubtedly false (see Weimer Republic). Whether there is unfettered free speech or limited free speech, the threat to democracy is always present.

          1. I agree with all of that. “Good speech drives out bad speech” is perhaps a noble goal to strive for, but it’s certainly not a true fact about our world.

          2. I completely agree with you that the rich have larger megaphones than everyone else. Look at the odious Viscount Rothermere – he’s worth a billion pounds through inheritance, owns a proudly ‘patriotic’ British newspaper, the Daily Mail, but as wikipedia says: “He has non-domicile (non-dom) tax status and owns his media businesses through a complex structure of offshore holdings and trusts.”

            His influence on the public of the UK (where he pays no tax) is huge, out of all proportion to what is just and fair. However, because he is rich he gets to impose his views on millions of UK tabloid readers.

            This man has a French passport, giving him all the benefits of EU membership should he need them. However, he relentlessly pushed for Brexit, ridding millions of their own EU rights, while allowing him to continue minimising his tax liabilities.

            Me and my family now have fewer freedoms and rights than we did before. But Rothermere keeps his French passport and EU citizenship, while continuing to rip off the UK taxman. His wealth allowed him to drive fundamental changes in UK and European politics, which benefit him and his super wealthy peers, while stripping the rights of others.

            That cannot be right.

  8. Will Twitter’s Terms of Service, to which account applicants must agree before being granted an account, be abolished, or revised to conform to Musk’s vision and then applied evenly and fairly across the board and without regard to the account holder’s social rank and notoriety, or lack thereof?

    1. Undoubtedly the Terms of Service will be updated. It sounds like Musk is interested in it being a free speech platform, whatever that entails, so I suspect it will be even and fair. I would like to see the rules change for account holders with very high numbers of followers. With popularity comes responsibility. I am hopeful they’ll find some middle ground between free speech and limiting the spread of misinformation. No one knows if it can be done.

      I suspect Musk’s vision will evolve. One of his superpowers is to attract the best talent and empower them to do great things. He will undoubtedly listen to those around him. It has been reported that Twitter has seen a 250% increase in employment applications since Musk’s announcement.

      1. I don’t agree that with popularity comes more responsibility. Perhaps it should, but that’s no reason to hold popular people to speech standards different from those of less popular people.

        1. I think that there’s a moral responsibility that comes with popularity, but that that responsibility is not (and ought not be) enforceable as a matter of law.

        2. As you’ve noted many times on this website, people have a right to say things we don’t agree with but we don’t have to listen to them. What I’m looking for is some sort of social media equivalent to this mechanism. We don’t want Twitter choosing who we listen to or what they say but give the reader control over what they read.

      2. One of his superpowers

        Please stop thinking of Musk as some sort of superhero. He’s not. He’s the same as all the other billionaires.

        I seriously doubt if he’s a fan of free speech. He talks the talk, but his actions show he doesn’t walk the walk.

        1. I don’t regard him as a superhero, just not the demon so many people think he is. He definitely is responsible for some stupid tweets. I’m thinking his run-in with the “pedo” guy and the one about having funding lined up for some acquisition. The latter one matters more to me as it is possible that he was indulging in market manipulation. That said, I’m guessing he really did think his funding was lined up but it fell through before anything was signed. He definitely should be investigated by the SEC and whoever for that and anything like it. If he has lumps coming, he should take them and adjust his behavior.

          He has shown over and over again that his filter is not working as well as it should, though perhaps it has been a bit better lately. On the other hand, people are speculating like crazy about his Twitter acquisition. He must feel a very strong need to counter some of it before it gets locked in as “truth”. After all, bad public and regulatory opinion could tank the deal.

  9. … half of America loves him.

    You’re rounding up there a bit, boss; in two runs for the presidency, Trump failed to get so much as 47% of the popular vote in either (and I doubt every one of those voters “love” him).

    I say, sure, let Trump tweet away to his raisin-sized heart’s content.

    The only people with less appetite for more tweets from Trump than some on the Left are some congresscritters on the Right, like Moscow Mitch. They’ll have to go back to running away from reporters’ questions, pretending that they haven’t read, or even heard about, Trump’s tweets.

  10. “And remember, half of America loves him.”

    My convictions are fiercely anti-Progressive, and pro Freedom, pro watchkeeper-government, and pro Free Market Capitalism. As such, I had to vote for Trump. Twice.

    Yet, I despise him, and know he does not operate in the ethos and sense-of-life of a true capitalist — he is to great extent a moocher, taking advantage of the “game,” which is a mixed economy of controls with some freedom.

    And personally … disgusting.

    I would estimate that only about 20% of this nation loves Donald Trump. There is a giant cohort that does not love him, yet votes for him while holding the nose, in order to fight against Democratic Socialism and the Progressive Project.

    1. Applaud your courage. In Canada, it was a catchphrase to say, “Something Trump would do,” after any petty gripe unrelated to politics, like someone letting their dog crap on your lawn. Thus goaded the day after the 2020 results were finally counted, I said something similar in response among friends. I added that from the parochial Canadian trade view, the GOP is generally better for us than protectionist Democrats are, not that this should be relevant for American voters. Of course I didn’t actually vote for Trump, being a foreigner, but one friend, getting increasingly hysterical, said, “You…you…almost sound like you would have voted for him!” I said it would have depended on the different viewpoints I would have had had I been an American citizen but I could see maybe yes.

      That’s when she started crying.

      1. I have to say I applaud your courage too Leslie. I can’t stand the guy and what he stands for and would not vote for him ever. EVER. However, we are all entitled to our own perspective and I respect yours.

        But I do have a question. As a person from the UK I might be uninformed, but your point about Democrats being protectionist strikes me as inconsistent with my impressions of Trump.

        To me Trump appeared to be the most protectionist US president I can remember. He was always going on about USA first, and complaining about other nations, particularly Mexico, China, Canada and the EU block.

        As a Canadian, you will be aware that he raised tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminium twice, among other things. Given his very obvious commitment to protectionist policies, what makes you label Democrats as protectionist?

        1. Appreciate your interest. The steel and aluminum tariffs were a specific pressure tactic applied during NAFTA re-negotiations to get our side to agree to terms in other domains more favourable to the U.S.—vintage Trump: never said he was likeable. The tariffs were eventually rescinded according to the plan all along once we signed and due to lobbying from American industrial customers of our metal producers. We make special high-grade steels for automobiles and tank armour—who knew? Algoma has a citation from the Pentagon—and our aluminium is cheap due to our abundant hydroelectricity. There was no American domestic substitute for either. All the tariffs did was make products temporarily more expensive for American consumers.

          Maybe we have a special selfish perspective because our economies are so integrated but my impression of Trump’s combative attitude toward foreigners was that it was mostly bluster, incredibly gauche, but didn’t hamper our trade. We indulge in protectionism ourselves—the world knows about our dairy quotas. Trump was trying to crack the protections allowed in the original NAFTA which hurt American farmers. Can’t fault him for that. He took an early strong dislike toward our Prime Minister when Trudeau was still a rock star, which makes Trump a prescient judge of character. 🙂 And while Canadians loathed Trump like a case of scabies, nothing he did domestically had any real impact on us. Ukraine and Russia? Who knows? I agreed with his renunciation of Paris Accord and thought he nailed the reasons. Every national leader must put his own citizens first and what foreigners think of him doesn’t matter.

          Labour-Left Buy American policies beloved by Democrats involve permanent non-tariff barriers to get around NAFTA. This traditional bias has weakened as the large industrial unions have withered. Public sector unions are woke but harmless as to trade. The Green agenda also hurts us, but we are hurting ourselves even more, so can’t blame Joe Biden for that. If his infrastructure bill is revived with foreign bidders barred or if he allows the Michigan governor, a political ally, to shut down the Line 5 Pipeline, those will both be deeply unfriendly acts albeit domestically popular in some quarters. To this Canadian, help to Ukraine is all I’m judging Biden on for now.

    1. Yeah, that’s a good response.

      But, but, but, Trump already told FOX he wouldn’t come back to Twitter! When he signs back up, I wonder what his excuse will be. “All my millions of fans love me so much, love my twitter, I did it for them, they all love Trump, I have the best tweets. Believe me.”

      1. That excuse you wrote is *exactly* what Trump will say—or some variation of it at least.

  11. I reject Musk’s assertion that Twitter should follow government laws on censorship and free speech, and in the case of Trump and the US, the First Amendment. Privately owned companies like Twitter can chose to give a platform for fascists and those actively trying to overturn democracy or not. It seems Musk has made his choice and I would condemn him for it.

    1. Musk has promised to not censor the Left, which has been attempting to overthrow the Original Republic and replace it with Social Democracy for over a century.

        1. There’s a world of difference between advocating the violent overthrow of the government and advocating a peaceable change in government. The latter is absolutely protected by the First Amendment, regardless of the form of government one is advocating a switch to — be it monarchy, communism, anarcho-capitalism, or what have you.

    2. Yeah ban those fascists and enemies of democracy. And while they’re at it, Twitter should ban all tweets from colleges that score “red” on FIRE’s College Free Speech rankings.

      “A rating of Red indicates that the institution has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.”

      If we are going to go after antidemocratic people and institutions, let’s start with the academic institutions that are undermining our democracy by actively eroding open debate and inquiry.

      1. I know you’re probably joking when you suggest that tweets that score red with FIRE be banned. But how about if every user has the option of seeing their tweet stream labeled according to FIRE. They might choose from a number of “labelling sources”. They could also choose how such a tweet should be handled. Perhaps they don’t want to see them at all or they want to see them but block whoever tweeted or retweeted it. There are a large number of possibilities. The important thing is that it wouldn’t be censorship as the user can only control what they alone read, or don’t read.

    3. You give absolutely NO reason for saying that private companies should adhere to different principles of speech than the government. I disagree with you, but you really haven’t made a case for anything. All you’re saying is “I don’t like what Musk is doing.”

    4. Twice now, (#8 and #13) you’ve expressed concern about fascism in justification for suppressing fascist speech, but given the modern elasticity of the term and its application to anyone on the right of Mao, it’s not a helpful term at all, especially when an organisation calling itself Anti-Fa exhibits several signs of fascism itself.

      I’m not American and don’t use Twitter at all, but do see on my right-wing side of the fence the same charges being made against the left – propaganda, emotion, misinformation, intimidation, violence, overturn democracy. Obviously, it’s leftist speech which must be suppressed. 😠

      Yes private organisations have the right to enforce expressions of political orthodoxy, but it’s arrogant and dangerous to give censorship powers to anybody to enforce an orthodoxy. To adapt a famous saying, ‘First they came for the fascists…”

      1. This is pretty close to a “both sides” argument. Sure, the GOP does accuse the Dems of wanting to overthrow our democracy. And sure, you can find some Democrat whose tweets might be interpreted that way. Still, it is nowhere close to being equal.

        1. Not so much a ‘both sides’ argument as ‘A Man For All Seasons’ argument.

          This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast—man’s laws, not God’s—and if you cut them down—and you’re just the man to do it—d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?

    5. The quality of discourse here is really disappointing. Yes, fascism is a loaded term but I am comfortable using it after January 6th and that is backed by leading scholars in the field (with some exceptions of course). Yes, there is a real concern about who gets to decided and how. Never claimed otherwise. The internet has fundamentally changed the way we communicate and access information for good and bad and anyone who tells you they have the solution is probably full of it. The printing press literally toppled dynasties and caused wars. Yes of course people on the left are guilty of using emotion, censorship and violence but nobody on the left is storming the capitol, voting to decertify democratic governments, or spreading the big lie. No cult of personality equivalent to Trumpism. I fear that those in the centre are naive to the problem and that social media giants are making choices that are contributing to the extreme right’s success. Anyway, some of the replies are really making the case that is a waste of energy debating.

      1. Since you find the quality of discourse here disappointing, and your sour disposition and attempt to dominate a thread degrades the quality of the discourse you don’t like, you needn’t comment here any more. You new commenters never read the posting rules on the left, do you?

  12. I disagree. Social media platforms are de facto publishers, albeit presenting only user-generated content. That doesn’t exempt them from being a responsible publisher and not spreading lies, propaganda and disinformation which cause harm to society.

    No publisher is obligated to publish everything anyone posts. News media don’t publish every single letter to the editor.

    1. @ploubere You would be correct … except that the Administrative State enacted Section 230, which specifically and forcefully protects social media companies from being “publishers,” and therefore not open to suits for libel.

      Also, it is not criminal for a publisher to publish a lie, unless it deliberately was intended to defame a person. We could attempt to “persuade” a publisher to stop “spreading lies, propaganda and disinformation which cause harm to society.” And, we free speech and un-curated social media, we can fight back against the lies.

      1. I should have been more clear, what I meant was that publishers have a social responsibility to not publish false and inciteful content, even if it is legal. Of course that doesn’t stop Fox News or OAN from doing exactly that.

        And I have always maintained that Section 230 was a mistake. It’s an absurd loophole.

  13. As long as Trump sees nothing wrong with what happened on January 6, and as long as he continues to promote the Big Lie that the election was stolen, and as long as he continues to endorse candidates using the litmus test of the Big Lie, he represents a continued threat to democracy. Winning Republican candidates will continue to suppress the liberal vote, and in some states they are perched to override legitimate ballot counts. How has his behavior changed to make you think he deserves a second chance?

    1. He wasn’t impeached and is now a private citizen. I am amazed at all the people who suddenly retreat on the issue of free speech when the subject is Trump, who has never been convicted of anything remotely related to violating the First Amendment.

      1. What would it mean to “violate the First Amendment”? I think he has done and continues to do the equivalent of falsely shouting “Fire” in a crowded theater. Why give him a platform?

        1. That’s what they all say.
          Ken, wherever you are, set us straight if you will on calling “Fire!” in a crowded theatre.

          1. Justice Holmes’s statement in Schenck v. US was about falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater — and that passes First Amendment muster only if it creates an imminent danger to those in the theater.

            Holmes was mistaken in his application of that test in Schenck, but within eight months he came around to one of the most ringing endorsements of free speech ever written, in his dissent (joined by Justice Louis Brandeis) in Abrams v. United States (1919). See here. That dissent, along with Justice Brandeis’s similarly ringing concurring opinion in Whitney v. California (1927), essentially set out the understanding of the Free Speech clause we have today, under the “imminent lawlessness” standard eventually adopted by SCOTUS in Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969).

        2. In the context of this discussion, violating the first amendment is making a law that abridges freedom of speech. Trump did many obnoxious things while in office, but he never tried to do that IIRC.

          1. Sure, but only because he didn’t get to it. Anyone willing to order firing on peaceful protestors or surreptitiously launching missiles into Mexico wouldn’t stop at abridging our rights. Look for it in his second term for sure. If he gets one, of course.

      2. I do not believe that the publicly available information would support a prosecution of Donald Trump regarding the Jan. 6th attack on the Capitol under the First Amendment’s “imminent incitement” standard (although I am withholding final judgment on this until we hear from the witnesses scheduled to appear for the House Jan. 6th committee in the upcoming hearings, regarding information that has not yet been made public).

        OTOH, I believe there is a prima facie case, as was discussed in federal district court Judge David O. Carter’s memorandum opinion rejecting the attorney-client privilege claims of Trump lawyer John Eastman on crime-fraud grounds, that Trump violated federal laws proscribing the obstruction of an official federal proceeding and conspiring to defraud the United States of a lawful government function — as well as good cause to believe that he violated Georgia state election-interference laws.

  14. Meanwhile, Musk blocks Common Cause from being able to even see, much less respond to Elon’s own tweets.

      1. As a principled user he would not block Common Cause and others who criticize him. But I don’t confuse him with having principled positions.

    1. Musk is not really in favour of free speech, at least not in relation to his own activities. He fired an employee for writing a critical review of Tesla full self driving and he has long been campaigning to get ElonJet deleted.

      1. Obviously Trump has the right to fire someone for leaking company secrets or even just saying negative things about the company’s products, subject to applicable whistleblower statutes, employment law, etc.

  15. Agree with Musk.

    There was no conviction. The Orange Man is free. Underground stuff will – and has , I guess – harmed the country.

    1. … feel like adding :

      – not that this will save anything or anyone
      – not that more harm will never happen because of the Tw1773r account that will be un-banned (?).
      – I repeat my earlier assertion : obvious, but worth saying :

      Free Speech is independent of any computer program, data storage system, Elon Musk, or anyone else. Free Speech belongs to me, to Elon Musk, to anyone, on an individual basis. Identical and independently distributed.

    2. Even if Trump had been convicted in the Senate, the conviction carries no penalty beyond removal from office. It is a political process, not a criminal one, almost like a non-confidence vote plus deposal as party leader in Parliament, except there is more pseudo-legal theatre in impeachment and the conviction doesn’t trigger an election. No criminal record or any other sanctions as would be applied against convicted felons.

      Given the obvious partisan nature of the modern process with its foregone conclusion, it was a big yawn-producer up here.

      1. No, removal from office is not the only potential penalty for being convicted in the Senate after impeachment in the House. Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution states the following:

        “Judgement in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.”

        Thus, if Trump had been convicted in the Senate that body could have voted to bar him from holding any future office in the federal government in addition to removing him from his then current position as president, meaning he could not serve another term as president. And, if Trump had been convicted, it would have provided impetus for him to be tried under criminal law.

        1. OK, but I never said impeachment gave immunity to criminal prosecution for the impeachable (or any other) offences. The only penalty available to the Senate would have been removal and, as you remind, bar from future office. That makes sense. A head of state must be spared the risk that his political opponents can clap him into prison.

  16. I have never used twitter, but I sometimes read it, when comments I wish to read are linked there. I would be indifferent if it were shut down.
    But if they are going to run it, as a politically neutral forum, they should actually practice neutrality. From my observation, they are looking for any possible pretense to silence the voices of those who do not comply with their current political agenda, while searching for tenuous excuses for literal calls for violence from their allies.
    Today, Lightfoot tweeted “The Supreme Court is coming for us next. This moment has to be a call to arms.”

    They also have a “hacked materials policy” which is used to block mention of news that might reflect negatively on the DNC (even when the info was not hacked), while allowing people to distribute hacked info, when it can be used against those perceived to be conservatives. Like doxxing lists of people who are alleged to have donated to conservative causes.

    Social media companies are unlikely to have anticipated that so much public discourse has moved to the internet. But now that it has, they should not be allowed to use them to promote their own political propaganda and to silence their perceived enemies.

  17. I don’t know what to think. On the one hand, totally “free” speech is what brings tyrants to power. Once they get their foot in the door, other voices suddenly disappear via the department of internal security. On the same hand, I believe Trump to be beyond the pale. He’s all but certified insane and corrupt to the core. Free speech should be a balancing of the value of different ideas, but Trump has no ideas – just lust for power. His supporters do not understand this. I saw Twitter’s gag order as one way sane people could protect us from another 4 years of Trump – which I don’t think the country could survive.

  18. I agree that Trump should have the same access to public fora (+ private fora run like public fora) as other people, and his posts should be judged by the same rules. I am just skeptical Musk’s twitter will be any more “public fora” than it was before, and I suspiciously expect it will be less so. He’s not going to create more freedom of speech, he’s just going to shift around the censorship from “conservative about violent rhetoric” to “conservative about rhetoric Musk doesn’t like”. Which, in my mind, is worse.

  19. Wow. Seems everyone is in favour of free speech until it is actually permitted. I expected better of the audience here.

    1. Me too, although many have expressed views I agree with. It’s often here a “free speech but. . ” crowd, with the buts referring to, of course, Trump and his minions.” Everyone should watch the Hitchens video I put below.

    1. Hitch gives Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., a bit of a bad rap in this one. I’m not a great fan of Holmes’s; he wrote one of the worst SCOTUS opinions ever in the forced-sterilization case Buck v. Bell (1927). But he was actually a champion of free speech. The problem with his opinion in Schenck v. United States was not so much his fire-in-a-crowded-theater trope, but in its application to the anti-WWI pamphleteers, essentially using it as a “bad tendency” test.

      Eight months later, in his dissent to another case arising under the Espionage Act of 1917, Abrams v. United States (1919), Holmes did a 180 on the application of the First Amendment test, essentially setting out the standard for free speech employed under the First Amendment today. I quote (bolding mine):

      Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to me perfectly logical. If you have no doubt of your premises or your power, and want a certain result with all your heart, you naturally express your wishes in law, and sweep away all opposition. To allow opposition by speech seems to indicate that you think the speech impotent, as when a man says that he has squared the circle, or that you do not care wholeheartedly for the result, or that you doubt either your power or your premises.

      But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out.

      That, at any rate, is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment. Every year, if not every day, we have to wager our salvation upon some prophecy based upon imperfect knowledge. While that experiment is part of our system, I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country.

      1. I was going to look up Holmes, thanks for the unofficial primer.

        … and, as I take it, Hitch was right on the money with the Austrians.

      2. You quote Holmes:

        “But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out.”

        The premise of Holmes’ argument is that there actually exists a free market for the exchange of ideas. It is analogous to the unfettered free market competition theory in economics – that an economy unregulated by government will produce the best results for society. However, as in economics, the free market approach in speech is challenged by what seems the inevitable concentration of power in the hands of the few. In Holmes’ time perhaps it was somewhat possible for debates on issues to be presented to the public in a somewhat even manner since discussions were confined to print media and oral argument. But with the passage of time, with the advent of radio, television, and computer technology, the dissemination of various public issues is more and more dominated by the rich and corporations. In other words, the notion that there can be a free exchange of differing ideas on a level playing field is becoming more absurd by the day. So, a fundamental question needs to be addressed: can there actually be free speech when one side has such an abundance of resources that it can easily drown out opposing views?

        1. “But with the passage of time, with the advent of radio, television, and computer technology, the dissemination of various public issues is more and more dominated by the rich and corporations.”

          What kept the “rich” and “corporations” from dominating “dissemination” in 1902-1932 (when Holmes served as Supreme Court associate justice)

          (Apologies for quotes, it is a guide only – the language thing can get out of control.)

        2. But with the passage of time, with the advent of radio, television, and computer technology, the dissemination of various public issues is more and more dominated by the rich and corporations. In other words, the notion that there can be a free exchange of differing ideas on a level playing field is becoming more absurd by the day.

          That same argument could be made with regard to the invention of moveable type or the widespread dissemination of newsprint. (After all, as a man once said, never get in an argument with someone who buys ink by the barrel.)

          Every advance in technology presents its own unique free-speech hazards. But I still believe in the power of a right idea to get itself accepted, even where the overwhelming weight of wrong ideas is arrayed against it.

          That is a leap of faith, I admit, but so too was the founding of the United States.

        3. Have you ever read the shrill carping mendacity of what passed for newspapers in those days?

          1. Indeed, I have. Up until the beginning of the twentieth century, newspapers were highly partisan and attempts at objectivity were not to be found. But, the point is that most towns, even small ones, had at least two newspapers – one Democratic, the other Republican. So people, most of whom were also highly partisan, had at least the opportunity for exposure to opposing viewpoints. Today, with the decline of print media as a source for news, replaced by electronic media that is dominated by the rich and corporations, there is a significant reduction in the likelihood of a level playing field in the arena of public debate. The relatively level playing field that once existed is now gone.

        4. I think you are on the right track here by comparing government regulation in the economic realm to regulation of the economy of ideas and speech. Just as the government is responsible for creating a level playing field for corporations, it should do the same for speech. The sports analogy is very apt for both of these. Games have rules and, occasionally, the controlling authority has to tweak the rules. Often this is to control some new kind of infraction but sometimes it is just to make the game more enjoyable for the spectators.

  20. I don’t have too much of a problem letting Trump back on Twitter. But will Twitter allow him to continue pushing the Big Lie on their platform? He has no evidence for it, as many court cases have ruled. I don’t think it is should be Twitter’s responsibility to censor the Big Lie but it bothers me that we can’t join a class action suit to shut Trump down on this one thing. While we do have laws against the violent overthrow of the government, what about the non-violent overthrow of the government? His pushing of the Big Lie has little to do with the free exchange of political ideas. It is falsely yelling “fire!” to our whole country.

    1. Paul, No.
      The Big Lie is not falsely yelling “fire!”. Clearly and obviously the words are different. So your last sentence is itself false on its face. You may argue that it is tantamount to, or just as bad as, yelling “fire!” but that is a matter of opinion, not fact. I’m sure you have read the history of the “fire in a theatre” rulings and will be aware of just how narrow is the scope to prohibit this type of speech. The whole country is not in a crowded auditorium where it is obvious what will happen in a panic.

      But anyone can be sued for anything. Why don’t you yourself seek an injunction against Donald Trump? Ask the local Court to order him to stop uttering the Big Lie. If you lose—the Court refuses the injunction— then you will have your answer: the Big Lie is not tantamount to falsely yelling “fire!” If the Court grants the injunction, then Trump must be arrested for contempt the next time he says, “Stop the steal” or “I’m still President.” Furthermore, you can ask the injunction against that speech to extend to all media outlets including social media.

      You don’t need to faff around with class-action suits unless you are seeking damages. If all you want to do is shut him up, an injunction is the way to go. Or would be if it would be granted.

      Even in Canada where protection of speech is much weaker than in the U.S., I can’t imagine our Courts granting an injunction against partisan political speech alleged by opponents to be false. We used to have a Criminal Code offence, “spreading false news”, which was used to prosecute Holocaust denier Ernest Zundel. (Crowns today proceed with hate speech laws passed after that case to be better focused.)

      Actually you don’t even need to seek an injunction right off. First you could just go to your local police station and report a crime: somebody named D. Trump falsely yelled “fire!” or pulled a fire alarm. The duty officer would ask you where did this happen? On Twitter. Uh, Sir….

      1. I don’t think I could successfully get an injunction. If I could, why wouldn’t others have done it already? What I am calling for is to establish the ability to sue someone for pushing a dangerous lie when it can be proven that they know it is a lie and they are doing it for selfish purposes or money. I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know how to put it in proper legal language. It would be similar to libel. This avoids the free speech and censorship issues because there are real damages involved. There would be a high bar, of course. It would have to be something concrete that was the subject of the lie. However, it doesn’t get more concrete than an election with actual vote counts. That takes it out of the realm of political opinion into the world of hard facts.

        My statement comparing pushing the Big Lie to falsely yelling fire is an analogy and I stand by it, at least to the extent one has to stand by an analogy.

  21. “Amendment 1: Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”

    Not sure what this has to do with either Musk or Trump…

  22. Before I started reading WEIT (pretty much when it first went up) I was a big believer in what I thought was free speech, but ummed and ahhed on what I viewed as more extreme speech. As a European with Jewish heritage, I found issues like holocaust denial especially troublesome. But, over the years Prof Ceiling Cat and others have convinced me that free speech as defined in the first amendment is crucial to a well-functioning society.

    So, it’s fair to say that I believe everyone in a free society should be free to say whatever they like (barring inciting immediate harm etc). I don’t live in the US, but I do wish that we had similar protections here in the UK. That said, I have a problem with viewing speech on Twitter content as equivalent in terms of free expression. They’re not.

    It’s clear that unrestricted and unregulated social media can have a hugely disruptive effect on our democratic processes. Just look at Brexit – it was a direct result of clandestine data mining by Cambridge Analytica and directed advertising. This was completely invisible to the electoral regulator at the time, but likely made a significant and deciding influence at the polls. How? By flooding the most suggestible people with outrageous lies scare mongering about Turkey joining the EU among other things.

    These are examples of the deliberate misuse of these platforms to influence a globally significant political issue. That’s bad enough, but the most significant influence that social media has goes largely below the radar. That’s because when we speak of free speech on Twitter, many people see it as analogous to a Town Hall. But it is not.

    Firstly, for practical reasons a town hall has a restricted audience. Mass media is different in that it can exponentially increase the number of people who hear your message. In the past, it was difficult to reach such numbers because your message usually had to be approved by a publisher / editor or whatever. This was a built-in filter that, usually at least, required the message to have some merit and prevented the most egregious content receiving a wider audience. Social media has done away with that filter.

    A town hall means everyone gets a chance to have their say, and everyone listens, or has the chance to. No one view is promoted over any other in terms of its distribution or availability. If you are there, you will hear it. That doesn’t apply in the world of social media. All Twitter or Facebook speech is NOT treated as equal, and a reader does NOT have equal access to all messages. Bias is what drives social media, and companies target users with the tribal and divisive tweets that best confirm their biases.

    There is no balance in social media as it currently stands, there is next to no real debate and unless you go looking for them, you will almost never see posts that oppose your own views. The algorithms that deliver content to you do so in a way that confirms your biases and beliefs and strengthens your sense of tribal identity. The posts and tweets that loosely align with yours are fed into the top of a huge funnel with a tiny hole at the bottom. What emerges is a collection of the most toxic, biased and polarising messages. They know what keeps people on the site and cynically leverage human nature to take full advantage.

    Speech on social media is not equivalent to speech as traditionally understood, it’s curated and directed to gain maximum traction. If he’s allowed back the most toxic messages that Trump creates will flood the feeds of the most toxic individuals, and will help radicalise those less toxic, because that’s all they will see! The laws that have so far allowed western democracies to flourish were not written with our current situation in mind. Cracking down on free expression scares the hell out of me and I have no idea what the answer is. However, I’m convinced that the existing legal and social norms through which we view free speech are no longer fully suitable in a world with social media.

  23. I am a free-speech proponent, no ifs, ands, or buts. The 1st Amendment of the US Constitution is currently being interpreted with more restrictions than it was written. It would be nice if Twitter embraces free speech to a higher standard than the US government does.

    I will add something novel to this thread. It is interesting to watch what happens as 200 (-ish) countries around the world, plus countless non-sovereign jurisdictions, decide what Twitter can and can’t show to their registered IP ranges. I’m seeing more references to members of various branches of government around the world blocking parts of the internet (including a US federal ruling last week mandating that all domestic ISPs block certain sites! ). We also have to consider what happens with Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or Article 5 of the German Grundgesetz. Elon Musk just bought himself one of the world’s most expensive headaches. And don’t forget – legislatures around the world have tried to bring in Mark Zuckerberg for questioning. The same thing will happen here.

  24. Jerry, my opinion is that just as you can decide to ban posters on your site, Twitter can decide to ban posters on their site. You have your roolze and they can have their roolze.

    1. It’s not a question of what they can do, it’s a question of what they should do. Banning people from a personal website/blog is very different to banning people from Twitter, which plays a big role in forming and testing public opinion.

    2. Exactly – it is not a ‘public square’ it is a private business. Musk is not the owner yet.

      As it is, there is something about Musk that stinks.

      1. I wonder if it ought to be designated a public square. Twitter seems to be some sort of de facto public platform – at least it does in the UK. Most of our media, even the BBC seem to regard it as the fount of public opinion.

        As for Musk, yes he stinks. He’s a conman and a liar – IMO. Unfortunately, a lot of people think of him as some sort of techno-messiah and assume he can do no wrong.

    3. Yes, and I’ve specified my Roolz and Musk has specified his and he says that he favors posting legal free speech (for reasons of civility I do not). But what is your point? The issue is that Musk has decided to follow the courts’ construal of the first amendment. That’s what we’re discussing, not whether private individuals have the right to regulate speech on their site. NOBODY DISAGREES WITH THAT.

  25. Musk is doing the right thing here. A permanent ban was a bad idea. If Trump uses Twitter to advocate the violent overthrow of the US government, he will per Musk’s policy be banned or at least those posts will be removed.

    1. But if Trump crosses over into illegally advocating the violent overthrow of the government, he will be arrested, no need for Twitter to censor him. (Hedging here because I don’t know the law on this in the U.S., but there is a line you can’t cross.). Everything up to that point is legal, and Twitter ought not censor it, even if they can. The security of the state against illegal overthrow does not rely on private companies to censor speech. It has the Insurrection Act, among other powers.

      Worry that unrestrained speech might lead to a need to invoke the Insurrection Act is not sufficient cause.

  26. Banning Trump then was a mistake in the timing, and the wrong place, too. It should never be allowed to have “the leader” of a country to directly tweet whatever they want. A person in such office is representing the office and the people, not themselves and it should come with the job that private opinions become a private matter.

    One of the actual dangers to democracy is not someone like Trump, but that this creates a defacto propaganda ministry that sidesteps checks and balances. The “leader” can emit anything, and as quickly contradict and float something else, from starting diplomatic crisis to far-out propaganda, completely unchecked, but also deliberately used. The USA cannot officially announce certain countries are “shitholes” but a Goebbels-in-Chief can, and officials and partisan journalistic stenographers can be dishonestly spin this in any direction. Likewise, an actual propaganda ministry can spring up and construct a series of well-timed tweets to get what it wants, and pass it off as private opinion. This is genuinely red alert dangerous. The only response is that everyone automatically treats this communication as America’s. That makes Trumpian statements official statements, as what they should be taken. There is no free pass here. Everything Trump tweeted while in office must be regarded as representative. And that will be the case for everyone else in such official positions.

    1. So you’re suggesting that from here on in, all of Trump’s statements be censored? On Twitter or in general, which means he is no longer protected by the First Amendment. Anybody else you want to ban? Mitch McConnell?

      1. That was really not what I wrote, nor did I say anything about banning “all” of his opinions. I wrote instead that someone in such high representative office always represents. That is, they have an official POTUS account. When Trump assumed office, his own account should have been disabled, or merged/redirected with the POTUS one. Hence, I wrote it was the wrong way to do it, because they banned him when he also lost his presidency, hence both were taken away

        Also, I am in favour of treating large social media places as “the public”; nobody should be banned for custom TOS violations. Though we have to figure out how to police these places. We have no idea right now how to organise this.

        I disagree though that Trump, or other rich people should be treated differently. If Joe Ordinary was banned for violating a TOS, then it was correct that someone like Trump could be banned, too.

    2. What you seem to be suggesting here is unworkable, IMHO. If we allow a President to have both a personal opinion and a presidential one, chaos will result. A President will always be able to backtrack and say that they were just expressing a personal opinion. “Never mind”, in other words. Of course, presidents DO say such things but we currently don’t accept them as valid excuses. Similarly for a company CEO. If Musk says something about Tesla that manipulates the market, he can’t get out of it by saying it was just a personal opinion. He might try, of course, but the SEC would not likely listen to it.

      1. This is an odd reply because you appear to agree entirely. Trump in fact DID have two accounts, the POTUS one and his own, which is why I wrote that such offices don’t allow much private opinion, or to be precise, having a “private” version next to an official channel opens the door to all sorts of problems, from diplomatic crises to a propaganda ministry.

        1. What I’m saying is that having two accounts, POTUS and his own, is not the problem. The world treating a president (or anyone else for that matter) as having two opinions, an official one and a acting-as-private-citizen one would be a big problem. If that’s what you’re saying, then we agree.

          1. I agree with the big probiem, but I disagree with the diagnosis. I believe Trump’s own account was treated with a degree of separation as his private opinion, and that’s what it dangerous in a democracy.

            1. With Trump it was always his own private opinion. He rules by the seat of his pants. At best, he endures the opinions of others then does whatever he wants. Rarely, he’s talked out of doing something but only because he is made to realize that he can’t do it.

    1. That is a good article. Thanks for posting it. My favorites:

      – Rudd notes that most takes in the media are strewn with strawmen and lack nuance.

      – He breaks down moderation into multiple kinds: decorum, content, point-of-view

      – Here’s a quote that readers on this website might appreciate:

      “QAnon is an ideology comprised of bad ideas that are extremely unlikely to be true. But I could say the same about Christianity, astrology, and Marxism-Leninism, all of which have significant presences on Twitter and Facebook.”

      There’s a lot more here and I encourage people to read it.

  27. Another good Quillette article, peripherally referencing Musk and Twitter.

    We have recently suffered the actual firing of a tenured professor from a small college in Alberta over speech issues, Frances Widdowson, mentioned also in the Quillette story. Not just a student op-ed writer calling petulantly for her dismissal, not just removal from committee or course obligations. Firing for cause.

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