What will go down in the great war for a digital town square? - ABDULLAH MURADOĞLU

What will go down in the great war for a digital town square?

Tesla founder Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter, one of the world’s leading social media platforms, has led to heated discussions in the United States. As the world’s wealthiest man with a fortune of $219 billion, Musk became the recipient of harsh reactions from the Democrats because of his Twitter takeover. Republicans, on the other hand, aren’t complaining. According to technology analysts, who draw attention to the fact that he bought Twitter for more than it was worth, Musk’s aim concerns “power” rather than a goal to make money. 

Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s account was suspended in January 2022 because a mob of Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2022, claiming that the Democrats stole the November 2020 presidential elections. Trump was accused of provoking these groups by spreading false information through his social media account. Democrats are afraid that under Musk’s control, Twitter will lift the ban on Trump’s account. 

The Democrats are also fearful because Musk describes himself as a “free speech absolutist.” Following his deal with Twitter, Musk had said, “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.” Democrat Senator Jeff Merkley, who stated that Musk’s control over a great political discussion forum is ‘concerning,’ said, “An oligarch’s ownership of a town square is always a source of concern. I think we need to be very careful about how it is managed.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren, who was nominated as a presidential candidate by the Democratic Party, responded to Musk’s purchase of Twitter as, “dangerous for our democracy.” Warren, who is one of the biggest advocates of dividing major technology companies such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google, had suggested additional anti-trust regulations for Twitter, as well as other social media platforms. Warren further demanded that Musk and other billionaires’ wealth tax be increased. This led to polemics between Warren and Musk. 

Meanwhile, many top-level Democrats in the U.S. Senate are preparing to launch an initiative to take administrative measures on the grounds that Twitter will provide a platform for the “White racist” groups. News from the Biden administration that a unit will be established under the Internal Security Department to fight online disinformation, was described by Musk as “disturbing developments.” Musk is accusing the Democratic Party’s anti-Biden left wings for these harsh limitation initiatives. Thus, Musk is extending an olive branch to Biden and the mainstream Democrats. Remember that Musk identified himself at one stage as “semi-Democrat, semi-Republican.” 

Pro-Trump Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn, on the other hand, says, “Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter terrifies the left, because they don’t want their power to censor conservatives threatened.” In fact, Fox News’ famous pro-Trump presenters Tucker Carlson and Mark Levin had been boycotting Twitter for some time. Shortly after the announcement of Musk’s Twitter deal, Carlson and Levin also announced that their boycott was over. Pro-Trump Deputy Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose Twitter account was suspended over Twitter’s Covid-19 misinformation policy, is also hopeful that her account will be re-activated. 

Following his Twitter ban, Trump had established a social media platform called “TRUTH Social,” which is not doing as well as hoped, but Trump seems determined to pursue it. Trump, who articulated his delight at Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, announced that he does not consider returning to Twitter, and that he will continue to remain on “TRUTH Social.” 

Discussions in the U.S. are more focused on how Twitter’s transfer will impact the political information environment. As is known, voters have become extremely polarized both politically and ideologically. The Democrats and Republicans are also in a cut-throat “culture battle.” Social media platforms, primarily Twitter, serve as both the “information” and “propaganda” fronts of these battles. In the event that the deal goes through, Twitter’s full control will transfer to Musk on Oct. 24, 2022. The U.S. interim elections will be held in November 2022. Meanwhile, Musk’s future plans concerning Twitter will be better comprehended in the upcoming period. 

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