Well, the social media platform is certainly different now than it was a year ago before the Musk takeover.
It’s still generally opaque and non-communicative about actual policies and procedures, but it is somewhat more responsive. Consider my problem with false, defamatory content warnings being placed on tweets promoting my astronomy posts beginning around Christmas last year. Complaints via their online contact forms were ineffective. In fact, the (automated?) responses I received were usually not true.
However, the company’s legal department was eventually responsive to certified mail. The first letter didn’t do the trick, but Twitter finally stopped falsely tagging my tweets and removed all of the false tags after another letter and an exchange of emails with their legal department. Perhaps I was helpful in identifying one of more of the old regime employees who needed to be fired.
So has my experience on the new X (TSMPFKAT) been perfect? Nope. But it’s been better, much more like when I joined over a decade ago while the platform was still pretending to be the free speech wing of the free speech party. The conversation become much more diverse, and Community Notes seems more effective at dealing with alleged misinformation than the old censorship regime.
Of course, many former Twitter employees don’t like the changes Musk has made. The Hill has an opinion post up by Anika Collier Navaroli, a former “Trust and Safety” team member during the last election.
The largest communications platforms are now vulnerable to manipulation and interference at a time when hostile nations are actively seeking to undermine democracy. This is even more concerning in the midst of a monumental global election season, with over 50 countries around the world having elections over the next year. We’ve already begun to see these elections take a turn toward far-right authoritarianism. This could sweep the globe, changing the face of our politics and affected all of our rights.
Many people believe Musk is a genius with a Midas touch. They name Tesla’s ability to singlehandedly reinvigorate the electric vehicle market, SpaceX’s savvy in sending reusable rockets into space, and Starlink’s ability to bring satellite internet connections to the most remote locations. But free speech, the product of X that upholds democracy, is not a technology company or a physical thing. Speech is evolving, complicated, and sticky. It requires tradeoffs, flexibility, and tough decisions. It shouldn’t be dictated by an autocratic CEO with absolutist ideologies.
At this moment, when we reflect on one year of Musk’s social media reign, we must reevaluate how we consume information and our complex relationships with social media platforms. It’s time to stop using X and participating in Musk’s immoral and dangerous failing free speech experiment. We must also make waves in developing better information ecosystems and sources of information to replace social media companies, like reinvesting in local news. Most importantly, we must make these changes quickly, because the future of our democracy depends on it.
There’s that phrase “our democracy.” I’m not sure who Ms. Navaroli would include within the circle of her “our,” but I am sure it doesn’t it includes people who speak things to which she is opposed. When a group can only maintain control by censorship—when their ideas cannot stand up to criticism, debate, or the facts—they not on the side of truth. Censored Twitter was on their side. They are not pleased to have lost control of X.
Is X better than Twitter? Yes, it is.
Is it perfect? No, but at least it’s better.