If Elon Musk runs Twitter like Tesla, Black people should be worried

by Ezekiel J. Walker
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The sale of Twitter to Elon Musk has prompted a number of questions about what will become of the popular social media platform once the ultra-billionaire gains complete control of it.

On Monday, both sides closed the deal to allow the world’s wealthiest man to buy Twitter for a record $44 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Far from a wide embrace, according to NBC News, “Twitter was flooded with user reports of high-profile accounts losing thousands of followers in the hours after news broke that Tesla CEO Elon Musk would purchase the social network. The company said Tuesday that the “fluctuations in follower counts” came from “organic” account closures.

What does this mean for Black people?

According to News One, Black Twitter, a group of influential users whose tweets spotlight issues affecting Black folks, are among those with ample reason to be concerned about the direction in which Elon Musk could take the app now that the sale is official.

Tesla has been accused and sued by its workforce in numerous alleged instances of racial discrimination for years without it being measurably addressed or corrected. The implication for Twitter is that the same administrative approach that prompted accusations of racism against Tesla will come to an already-White dominated workforce at Twitter.

There are also fears Musk could modify the way Twitter moderates content from its users, whose words have been policed more aggressively in recent months and resulted in permanent suspensions, like former President Donald Trump.

Users fear Twitter’s digital Wild Wild West will have real-world implications.

The Washington Post described Musk’s social media ambitions as wanting “a free speech utopia,” however, that could mean allowing misinformation, lies, racism and threats of violence without penalty.

“What Musk seemingly fails to recognize is that to truly have free speech today, you need moderation,” said Katie Harbath, a former Facebook public policy director and CEO of consultancy Anchor Change, recently told the Washington Post. “Otherwise, just those who bully and harass will be left as they will drive others away.”

Elon Musk’s history with race relations leaves a lot to be desired.

Musk, who has said he’s unsure what a “Karen” is,  could allow racists like Marjorie Taylor Greene to not only regain access to their banned accounts but also resume the violent propaganda to a salivating bloodthirsty base. Regardless of what direction Elon Musk plans to steer Twitter’s ship in the future, what’s abundantly clear today is that many passengers would rather jump overboard than sink with the captain.

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