On Tuesday, Elon Musk tweeted that he wants people to be able to post anything they want on Twitter that "matches the law."
"By 'free speech,' I simply mean that which matches the law," he said. "I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law. If people want less free speech, they will ask government to pass laws to that effect. Therefore, going beyond the law is contrary to the will of the people."
The federal government doesn't recognize the concept of "hate speech." This means, as Arieh Kovler explains in his newsletter, The Hat Tip, hate speech would flourish on Twitter:
When Musk says that he supports all free speech within the law — US law, of course — remember how far the law goes. All of these are lawful speech in the US:
- encouraging people to kill themselves
- posting photos of murdered and mutilated children
- posting Jihadi beheading videos
- making your profile picture a swastika
- Making your username "Lynch the N******" or "Gas the K****"
- campaigning for abolishing the age of sexual consent
- posting long manifestos arguing that all Jews should be tortured to death
Will Musk allow them all?
These questions aren't new. Every free speech platform faces challenges to its policies. Gettr bans Nazis. Parler bans porn. Truth Social puts content warnings on controversial posts. Even 4chan bans doxxing and removes livestreams of mass shooting attacks carried out by its members. ALL of them ban spam. Every platform ends up a censor in the end, because platforms need to censor to survive.
For many reasons, it's now looking unlikely that Musk will end up buying Twitter. But if he does, he has high-profile partners who will have invested billions in Twitter with profits in mind. Can you imagine them allowing Musk to turn Twitter into toxic slime pit?