Marking an end to one of the most annoying “will they, won’t they” phases in recent memory, Elon Musk finally became the owner of Twitter on Thursday.
The renegade billionaire’s acquisition of the American left’s favorite outlet for both social networking and disseminating regime propaganda raises serious questions about the future of free speech in an era when it was all but a foregone conclusion that it would be mostly relegated to digital ghettos and political echo chambers.
For too long, Twitter has been an outlet that shuns the average user as it bent over backward to accommodate Democrat politicians, the corrupt American bureaucracy, and genocidal regimes abroad. It participated in some of the most egregious censorship and political interference, so when news broke that Musk had finally sealed the deal and kicked the former high-ranking censor-happy executives Parag Agrawal, Ned Segal, and Vijaya Gadde to the curb, the platform broke out in what could only be described as a chaotic celebration as users began to post their hottest takes.
In many ways, it was reminiscent of the Great Meme War of 2016 that may or may not — depending on whom you ask — have had a role in the election of President Donald Trump. For a brief moment, the internet was fun again, but this joy — at least for me — was short-lived. People were posting about how happy they were to “be free” and to “have their freedom back,” fully convinced that one man’s purchase would save our nation.
Yes, Musk bought Twitter and has pledged to end censorship and the suppression of speech on one of the most important digital platforms and, in doing so, caused all the right people (left-wing apparatchiks posing as neutral journalists, entrenched federal bureaucrats, and the global elite in general) to experience a healthy dose of existential dread as they realized their grasp on power isn’t as total as they thought it was, but this does not mean we have reclaimed — or been given back — our freedom.
The faceless blob composed of the managerial elite, the people who really run the United States — to borrow a phrase from Michael Anton — still have near complete control over every other institution that affects our lives. Sure, they probably can’t ban you on Twitter anymore for saying boys and girls are different, but they will, undoubtedly, find their way into a similar role in some other company that is just as influential.
The people who censored you on Twitter will find their way into Meta Platforms (the company formerly known as Facebook, Inc.), where they can work not just to suppress your speech but also to throttle your access to your preference of news sources and limit your participation in local online community groups. If they don’t stay in the private sector, maybe they’ll become federal bureaucrats who work to withhold funding from school systems that won’t affirm the gender delusions of young children.
That said, pessimism is for fools, and it ought to be acknowledged that Musk’s acquisition of Twitter is a good thing that should be celebrated. This purchase marks the first substantive win for free speech and intellectual freedom in entirely too long. Alternative tech platforms have existed for some time now, but they simply don’t provide the reach or have the legitimacy that a platform such as Twitter does. Musk’s ownership of Twitter can offer much-needed neutrality for a marketplace of ideas with runaway left-wing inflation.
But reclaiming our freedom is going to be much more complicated. It requires identifying the ne’er-do-wells in our midst — giving a face to the faceless armchair-activist blob — and ensuring they are prevented from doing further damage while we simultaneously undo the damage they and their ilk have already caused.
Until the people who made Twitter an unusable hellscape are too afraid to censor us, shut down our churches, indoctrinate our children, or interfere with our elections again, we won’t have regained our freedom.