April 5, 2022
Conservatives are asking Elon Musk to restore former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account after the Tesla chief executive became Twitter’s largest shareholder.
Musk, the world’s richest person, bought 73.5 million shares of Twitter stock worth some $2.9 billion at the time, according to a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The purchase gave Musk a 9.2% stake in the social media giant, larger than any shareholder.
About one week earlier, Musk lambasted Twitter for not protecting free speech.
“Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy,” Musk tweeted. “What should be done?”
“Is a new platform needed?” he added later.
Musk didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment and hasn’t yet made any public statements on his new ownership in Twitter.
Beyond Trump, Big Tech’s influence over public discourse has become a major concern to many observers on both sides of the political aisle — and, according to experts, one man, even one as powerful as Musk, won’t be enough to change the status quo.
“While this is a positive development, Musk’s investment alone won’t resolve Big Tech’s politically motivated censorship of conservatives,” said Mike Davis, founder and president of the Internet Accountability Project. “Congress must modernize our antitrust laws and reform Section 230 to restore competition and accountability in the tech marketplace.”
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act shields companies that act as platforms or virtual public forums — such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram — from liability for content on their sites. This means social media giants can’t be sued and held legally responsible for content posted by users.
However, critics argue, these companies in recent years have been behaving like publishers, not platforms, by choosing to block certain content like a publication. Conservatives contend most content that’s blocked is supportive of their views or critical of the political left.
As a result, the argument continues, Big Tech acts as a publisher by deciding what content stays up while enjoying legal immunity as a platform under Section 230 and not being held accountable.
Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have often said they intend to update and reform Section 230, but no major changes have been made.
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Unlike the Big Tech monopolies, the Internet Accountability Project pledges to never sell or share your personal information, which is your property.