The best Elon could do to Twitter

Elon Musk seeks to own Twitter and make it a platform for free speech around the world. This certainly is not its reputation at the moment, although it seemed like it in the past.

Many of us (especially if we are at least 30 or older) remember a time when the internet was an experiment in anarchy, rather than a prison of control. It easily seems natural to us that the current extent of control and filtering of content on social networks is just an unwelcome anomaly in what should be the course of human progress to greater liberty and exposure.

Contrary to my wishes, as well as Elon Musk's, Noughties-style online freedom probably isn't really our destiny but just a historical blip. History indicates that any technologically-endowed freedom is likely to only ever be a fleeting thing before some authorities reassert the primacy of the law, but that pattern is a topic for another day.

Restoring Trump?

The political right has rallied around Musk's attempts to take over Twitter. They seem to see a way to get their beloved Donald Trump’s account restored, after so-called "Big Tech" exercised its power in favour of the Democratic Party by suspending his Twitter account towards the end of the 2020 US presidential election.

Whatever happens to Twitter is likely to serve interest groups in the United States, first and foremost the government itself. Although it likely remains the world's most politically influential website or application, Twitter has become little more than a channel for amplifying and rewarding views approved by or entirely constructed by United States government bodies. With time, it has increasingly  aligned with the US government on every issue and teamed up against regimes the US is targeting.

It has reached a point now that, if any other country is as vigilant as the United States about guarding against foreign political interference, such a country will ban Twitter without hesitation.

A dead end

Although Musk's ownership of Twitter may be beneficial to independent media and dissident voices, Twitter is dead. Despite retaining its influence as nothing more than inertia from a prior model under which it succeeded, almost all media stories that succeed there now are artificially boosted by the platform, and are from nauseatingly familiar sources.

Twitter is now little more than an aggregator for common American cable news channels, showcasing the content of such channels as its main attraction, as a way of recapturing the audiences that fled them and suppressing or banning other content wherever possible. Twitter may have, actually, been infiltrated by and bent to the will of journalists hellbent on restoring Iraq War-era levels of manipulation of the public.

The best Elon Musk ought to do is sabotage what Twitter has become, if he can, but the tech companies will never tolerate the return to the wilderness the internet once was. Immediately after Musk unblocks and unbans any content, there will be pressure on the app stores to remove Twitter. Following this, the platform will be effectively destroyed and fade into obscurity.

To set in motion the destruction of Twitter would wipe a stain from the internet, and be a huge favour from Elon Musk if it is achieved. Twitter, like most social networks, is no longer of any benefit to society or human relationships, being a false afterimage of former creativity.