Review of Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover – the billionaire can be hilariously grandiose at times.
It can be difficult to take someone seriously when they seriously use the term “the woke mind virus”. However, in the case of Elon Musk, there is no alternative. Is he a visionary? A hypocrite? A staunch defender of free speech? Or is he just a victim who gained power and used it to destroy the world? Opinions of Musk vary greatly, reflecting the unpredictable and diverse nature of the man himself.
According to his biographer, Walter Isaacson, Elon Musk actively pursues challenges during times of peace. This documentary thoroughly illustrates how Musk’s acquisition and control of Twitter, now known as X, in 2022 resulted in a storm of controversy. The film is multi-faceted, serving as a study of Musk’s character, a summary of the past ten years of American politics, and a disturbing examination of how social media has become a chaotic platform for global grievances.
The pandemic and the Trump administration were the main factors that sped up this development. Twitter had been struggling to find a middle ground between promoting free speech and not tolerating hate speech and deliberate misinformation. However, when the president began spreading false information on the platform, especially during a time when it could have serious consequences, Twitter had to take action and suspended his account. During this time, Elon Musk was frustrated with the forced closure of his Tesla factories. This led to an unlikely partnership between him and Trump, both opposing lockdown measures.
Who has the authority to suspend a president? In this situation, individuals like Yoel Roth, who works in Twitter’s Trust and Safety department and has become a target for criticism from supporters of Trump. During an interview, he appeared anxious and young but also stood his ground. When asked about his role in making this decision, Roth responded, “I am just one person. It should not be solely my responsibility.” This is the crux of the issue. These individuals did not seek out this power. They are essentially young and tech-savvy individuals (although Roth did once refer to Trump as a “racist tangerine” on Twitter, which may have contributed to the backlash). However, he is correct. The decision should not rest solely on his shoulders. And it logically follows that it should not be solely up to Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg, or Elon Musk either.
Musk was experiencing a downward spiral, becoming a prominent illustration of how belief in a conspiracy theory can lead to further acceptance. In a single tweet, he offended transgender individuals, those affected by Covid, and the credibility of medical research with just five words.
In this instance, things become unsettling. Musk’s outspoken recklessness is extremely dangerous due to his high status. As the documentary progresses, more and more people who have been targeted by his tweets come forward with stories of harassment and threats. This creates a form of censorship in itself: the most frightening kind – self-censorship. If you suspect that a billionaire with over 160 million followers (many of whom are fiercely protective of him) will disapprove of your actions, you may choose to not take those actions. This principle now applies to anyone who may oppose Musk’s beliefs, from politicians to journalists. By the time Musk’s supporters were using The Twitter Files (a supposed leak showing collusion between government and social media companies) as a reason to criticize Joe Biden’s presidency, it was evident that social media had distorted our conversations while claiming to enhance them.
The movie is a commendable reaction to this situation in a calm and dedicated manner. PBS documentaries often have a similar style and appearance to extended news broadcasts – no unnecessary elements, just reporting. In contrast to the current biased news culture influenced by Twitter, this simplicity is admirable and invigorating. Traditional investigative methods, such as considering different viewpoints and challenging individuals from both sides of the debate, offer a refreshing change. Utilizing traditional broadcasting could potentially counteract the damaging frenzy of social media.
But what about Musk personally? He can be overly ambitious at times, but also appears to get bored easily – which could potentially benefit us. In the beginning of the movie, there is a scene of him at the launch of one of his spacecrafts. If we overlook the excessive grandeur of these projects, it is surprisingly endearing. He resembles a young boy brimming with enthusiasm about getting to play with the most impressive and top-notch toys ever created. While regulating social media will continue to be a challenge for a long time, could we perhaps dream that one day, Elon Musk will choose to focus on his rockets once again?
The episode of Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover was broadcasted on PBS America and can be watched later on Freeview Play and Amazon Fire TV.