Musk Promised To Restore Free Speech On Twitter. One Year Later, Was It All Just Talk?

After billionaire Elon Musk purchased Twitter — now X — in October 2022 and promised to restore free speech, the platform has moved toward it in many ways but also imposed softer censorship.

Musk’s X has unbanned many accounts and released “The Twitter Files,” exposing censorship that took place before his takeover. However, the platform has also instituted a “freedom of speech, not reach” enforcement doctrine, allowing individuals to post what they desire, but suppressing content that breaks the platform’s rules so other users will likely not view the posts.

“X is now a place where everyone can freely express themselves, so long as they do so within the bounds of the law,” X CEO Linda Yaccarino wrote in a blog post on Thursday. “We believe open and respectful discourse is the single best way for humanity to thrive.”

Musk appointed Yaccarino as CEO in June after advertisers fled the platform due to the increase in freedom. Yaccarino has praised freedom on the platform but also attempted to assure advertisers the vast majority of content seen on X is safe.

“More than 99% of content users and advertisers see on Twitter is healthy,” Yaccarino posted on X in July, highlighting the expansion of the “freedom of speech, not reach” policy.

There are currently vague rules on the platform such as prohibiting “attack[ing] other people” on the basis of their identity.

“Our trust and safety team is working around the clock to combat bad actors and consistently enforce our rules in areas such as hate speech, platform manipulation, child safety, impersonation, civic integrity and more,” Yaccarino wrote in the blog post. “We have made real progress in our work to combat misinformation from all sides on X.”

Experts raised the alarm about Musk’s platform moving toward censorship to the Daily Caller News Foundation in September, but Musk reversed some of these measures since then. For example, X was hiring specialists in August to shield against “election interference” on the platform, but Musk reportedly fired half of the employees working on election integrity in September.

“Oh you mean the ‘Election Integrity’ Team that was undermining election integrity? Yeah, they’re gone,” Musk posted on X.

Musk reinstated many banned accounts after taking over the platform, including former President Donald Trump, clinical psychiatrist Dr. Jordan B. Peterson and satirical outlet the Babylon Bee. He has released numerous batches of “The Twitter Files” which are internal company documents revealing censorship, including emails related to the decision by X to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story in 2020.

The European Union (EU) is using its Digital Services Act (DSA) to influence platforms like X to censor objectionable content. The law took effect in August and requires large platforms to enhance content moderation by clamping down on “disinformation,” potentially imposing massive penalties for violations.

Musk told the European Commission that the platform would comply with the DSA, Reuters reported in October 2022.

X did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

Jason Cohen on October 27, 2023

Daily Caller News Foundation

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