First the Washington Post, then the New York Times went after the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, one year after techno-entrepreneur Elon Musk purchased it and shone a light on the previous regimes squelching of conservative voices in favor of liberal “blue checks” and other anointed ones, and possibly swinging the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden (see “Twitter Files”).
Reporters Steven Lee Myers, Stuart Thompson, and Tiffany Hsu collaborated on the “interactive” online project “The Consequences of Elon Musk’s Ownership of X.” (At least the Times only needed three reporters to conjure up fear and loathing against Musk and X; the Post required four.)
The introduction featured three blocks of text interspersed among graphics, demonstrating this was less a technology news story than an anti-Musk rant:
When Elon Musk bought Twitter a year ago, he said he wanted to create what he called a “common digital town square.”….“That said,” he wrote, “Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape.”….A year later, according to study after study, Mr. Musk’s platform has become exactly that.
Now rebranded as X, the site has experienced a surge in racist, antisemitic and other hateful speech. Under Mr. Musk’s watch, millions of people have been exposed to misinformation about climate change. Foreign governments and operatives — from Russia to China to Hamas — have spread divisive propaganda with little or no interference.
Mr. Musk and his team have repeatedly asserted that such concerns are overblown, sometimes pushing back aggressively against people who voice them. Yet dozens of studies from multiple organizations have shown otherwise, demonstrating on issue after issue a similar trend: an increase in harmful content on X during Mr. Musk’s tenure.
The reporters slavered over the long-awaited collapse of Musk’s Twitter, yet admitted:
….Despite voluble threats by disgruntled users to move to alternative platforms — Mastadon, BlueSky or Meta’s new rival to Mr. Musk’s, Threads — none of them have yet reached the critical mass to replicate the public exposure that X offers.
For example, leftist master Tweeter George Takei has less than a tenth of a following on Mastodon than he does on X (3.3 million). In any case, don’t tell columnist Paul Krugman – he’s still pushing whatever the alternative-to-X platform of the moment is before it too crashes and burns.
Mr. Musk, the prominent, outspoken executive behind Tesla and Space X, had been an avid Twitter user for years before taking it over, promoting his ventures and himself, at times with crude, offensive comments. During the Covid-19 pandemic, he sharply criticized lockdowns and other measures to slow the virus’s spread and began to warn of a “woke” culture that silenced dissent.
Among his first acts as the site’s owner was to reverse the bans on thousands of accounts, including those of users who had promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory and spread disinformation about Covid and the 2020 presidential election.
The impact was instantaneous. Researchers at Tufts, Rutgers and Montclair State universities documented spikes in the use of racial and ethnic slurs soon after Mr. Musk’s acquisition….
Typically, the Times found a data-analytics firm that works with leftist Democrats at Media Matters, but pretends they’re nonpartisan:
“With disinformation about the Israel-Hamas conflict flourishing so dramatically on X, it feels that it crossed a line for a lot of people where they can see — beyond just the branding change — that the old Twitter is truly gone,” Tim Chambers of Dewey Square Group, a public affairs company that tracks social media, said in an interview. “And the new X is a shadow of that former self.”
The Times also cited a Harvard journal, The Misinformation Review:
Even worse, the article argued, Mr. Musk’s changes appear to be boosting the engagements of the most contentious users.
By “contentious,” read “conservative.”
The Times broadcast a whine from a climate group that X lacked “clear policies that address climate misinformation, having no substantive public transparency mechanisms, and offering no evidence of effective policy enforcement.”
Which begs the question: Who determines what counts as “climate misinformation”? Any information skeptical of giving up all fossil fuels ASAP?