Elon Musk reveals how his Twitter may fuel right-wing extremism

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  john-russell  •  3 weeks ago  •  30 comments

Elon Musk reveals how his Twitter may fuel right-wing extremism
A visitor from, say, Mars might notice two big things coming from Republicans and right-wing propagandists these days. First, they are widely applying the terms “groomer” and “pedophile” to Democrats and corporations that oppose Republican bills restricting classroom discussion of sex and gender. Second, they’re concertedly trying to impede efforts to get to the bottom of Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election. Meanwhile, many Republicans are running for office on undiluted...

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www.washingtonpost.com   /opinions/2022/04/29/elon-musk-twitter-purchase-gop-right-wing-extremism/

Elon Musk reveals how his Twitter may fuel right-wing extremism


Greg Sargent 6-7 minutes   4/29/2022





Elon Musk, the most powerful Twitter troll in our soon-to-be interplanetary species, has spent the past 24 hours trolling Democrats. In   tweet   after   tweet , he has claimed the Democratic Party has lurched into leftist extremism, leaving no option for noble centrists — a class that coincidentally includes Musk himself — but to turn toward the GOP.


Musk’s core claim has been brutally debunked. As observers   quickly demonstrated , the data shows the opposite: By numerous metrics, it’s the GOP that has grown far more extreme.

But it’s a mistake to evaluate Musk’s trolling purely as an empirical matter. It might better be seen as a   statement of intent . Musk’s trolling might be revealing in real time how his pending purchase of Twitter will fuel and enable right-wing extremism.

“I strongly supported Obama for president, but today’s Democratic Party has been hijacked by extremists,” Musk   tweeted   about Barack Obama. He   added : “The far left hates everyone, themselves included!” And there’s this:

The idea that conservatives haven’t moved right, as depicted here, is false by   many ideological metrics . But the rub here is not the empirical failing. It’s the signal of intent to turn a blind eye to the realities of right-wing extremism. This graphic   literally   depicts Musk himself doing this.

That’s only one tweet, and it’s a troll. But his entire public argument hints at that underlying aim, with real-world implications.


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Musk has vowed to relax Twitter’s moderation policies. He has   attacked   those who fear what this means as opponents of “free speech,” while   suggesting   that those previous policies had a left-wing bias.

It’s not hard to see what that might add up to: It might mean relaxing moderation of the sort of tweeting on the extreme right that had previously been moderated against, in the name of “free speech” and restoring ideological “balance.”

To be clear, the point here isn’t that moderation policies shouldn’t be rethought. Surely some moderation of particular right-wing speech has been excessive. If Musk can make the moderation process more transparent, great — though that’s   easier said than done .

The point, rather, is that simplistically equating less moderation with “free speech” — and more moderation with “censorship” — doesn’t do any real-world work. There are all kinds of Twitter expressions where moderation isn’t an easy call — online harassment, rank disinformation, efforts to foment violent insurrection or undermine democracy with deliberate propaganda, and so on.

In such cases,   more   moderation might   facilitate the flourishing of free exchange . The question is whether Musk will yank that back and allow the destructive practices to flow unchecked. It’s in this context that Musk’s downplaying of right-wing extremism hints at the dark turns this could take.

A visitor from, say, Mars might notice two big things coming from Republicans and right-wing propagandists these days. First, they are   widely applying   the terms “groomer” and “pedophile” to Democrats and corporations that oppose Republican bills restricting classroom discussion of sex and gender.

Second, they’re   concertedly trying to impede   efforts to get to the bottom of Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election. Meanwhile, many Republicans are   running for office on undiluted propaganda   about 2020, to install themselves in positions of control over future elections.

This stuff doesn’t map onto Musk’s diagram of leftism and conservatism. As   David Lurie notes , it’s not a move in a “conservative” direction. It’s a turn away from the constitutional order itself. Musk is telling us that those abnormalities will not register in his understanding of the moment.

Yes, Musk   denounces   the “far right” along with the “far left.” But all this shows is that he’ll fall back on absurd equivalences to downplay how virulent and destructive the former has truly become.

And notably, many   members of the Republican Party   are trafficking in “groomer” smears and helping to feed the party’s insurrectionist streak. As   Brian Beutler shows , Republican officials are threatening use of institutional power to help secure Musk’s Twitter takeover, meaning they see a big advantage in how that would alter the politico-information environment.

What does this mean in practice?

Danielle Citron, a University of Virginia law professor who studies online harassment, suggests a worst-case scenario: A less-moderated Twitter might be weaponized in online harassment campaigns to paint Democratic officials — especially ones who attack GOP bills on sex and gender identity — as groomers and pedophiles.

“If Democratic politicians are accused of being pedophiles,” Citron tells me, you can imagine “deep fake sex videos” that employ depictions of child porn with the “politician swapped in.”

Alternatively, says Citron, you can see a much more extensive outpouring of “disinformation” about our elections, particularly amid another coup attempt.


“Twitter looked like that 12 years ago,” Citron tells me. Indeed,   some current Twitter employees fear returning to exactly that .


Harassment does happen on both sides. But current moderation at least tries to keep up with it. In a world where that’s relaxed, it could grow worse on both sides, but on the right, it would plainly be more in direct sync with the agenda of many Republican politicians, who are on board with the agenda of painting Democrats as groomers and undermining democracy.

It may be that Musk might not end up allowing anything like this to happen, once his vague “free speech” bromides   collide with messy moderation realities.   But when he displays his determination to downplay the radicalization of the right wing of the GOP, he’s showing us a potential future information landscape that far-right Republicans are surely dreaming about.

No wonder they’re so excited.




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JohnRussell
Professor Principal
1  seeder  JohnRussell    3 weeks ago

Poor Mr Musk is betting on the wrong horse. 

 
 
 
Right Down the Center
Freshman Guide
2  Right Down the Center    3 weeks ago

The more I read about Elon the more I like him.  No wonder the group that believes in free speech through censorship is so afraid of him.  Everything the leftist extremists are worried about Elon doing with Twitter are things Twitter is already doing for them. It is obvious he is not like some companies that can be bullied by the far left to bend to their will or believe the bullshit about the majority of the right becoming radicalized that they are trying to shove down peoples throats.

They will try to bring him down with any means available to them.  It must be nice to have so much F you money.

 
 
 
Snuffy
Senior Guide
2.1  Snuffy  replied to  Right Down the Center @2    3 weeks ago

As November comes closer and closer expect to hear more fear mongering in opinion pieces like this.  Fear is a powerful weapon in a political race.

 
 
 
Right Down the Center
Freshman Guide
2.1.1  Right Down the Center  replied to  Snuffy @2.1    3 weeks ago

And it works for some people.  At this point I think the left is so far off the track more people are seeing through the tactic and will vote accordingly.  Hopefully that will bring the democrats back to the middle.

 
 
 
Snuffy
Senior Guide
2.1.2  Snuffy  replied to  Right Down the Center @2.1.1    3 weeks ago

I don't know if that will happen this coming election cycle however.  Read an article the other day where in the solidly blue regions they expect the AOC type candidates to do better and the Defund the Police crowd in Congress to increase in numbers.  I honestly don't know how much more the extremists from either side need to gain power before the center comes back into play, or how much damage will be done before it happens.  

 
 
 
Right Down the Center
Freshman Guide
2.1.3  Right Down the Center  replied to  Snuffy @2.1.2    3 weeks ago

Sounds like an interesting (although depressing) read.  It does seem like we are getting more "all or nothing" politicians on both sides.  The adults, like Elvis, have left the room.  Hopefully there are some adults more interested in the country than their cable news soundbites out there that will care enough to run and not be afraid of getting some mud slung their way.

I was under the impression that most dems have come to the realization the defund the police was not a winning strategy.  I haven't heard of anyplace that has taken money from the police department having less crime. 

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
2.1.4  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Right Down the Center @2.1.1    3 weeks ago

The Republican Party is led by people like Marjorie Taylor Green, Lauren Bobert, Matt Gaetz, Louis Gohmert, Jim Jordan, and you think the Democrats are off track? Thats priceless.  What do those fools have in common ?  They were called out by name for praise by Trump at one of his recent rallies. The decent Republicans , few as they are, are in hiding. 

 
 
 
Right Down the Center
Freshman Guide
2.1.5  Right Down the Center  replied to  JohnRussell @2.1.4    3 weeks ago
The Republican Party is led by people like Marjorie Taylor Green, Lauren Bobert, Matt Gaetz, Louis Gohmert, Jim Jordan,

The Republican party is not led by them, they are just used by the media to make people believe they are the face of the party.  They are the fringe, nothing more.  There are many more democrats that have moved way way left.  When liberals like James Carville and Bill Maher say the left has moved too far left you might want to listen, unless you are faaaaarrrr left.   The decent Democrats (like Manchin) ,  few as they are, are in hiding. 

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
2.1.6  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Right Down the Center @2.1.5    3 weeks ago

The Republican Party is led by Donald Trump, and I guarantee you he thinks those people are the heart and soul of his party. Not even a month ago he called them all out, by name, and praised them as great Americans. 

Your pretending to know what you are talking about aint gettin it done. 

 
 
 
Right Down the Center
Freshman Guide
2.1.7  Right Down the Center  replied to  JohnRussell @2.1.6    3 weeks ago

You sound confused. One second you are saying the Republican party is led by Marjorie Taylor Green, Lauren Bobert, Matt Gaetz, Louis Gohmert, Jim Jordan and the next post you say it is led by trump.  Truth be told it is obvious you have no clue who is running the republican party. That is what happens when you listen to the democrats telling you who is running the Republicans. Yet you say I don't know what I am talking about. 

You sure are funny.

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
2.2  Sparty On  replied to  Right Down the Center @2    3 weeks ago

The guy is a genius.    

Soon we will be adding MDS to the triggered folks dance card.

Poor snowflakes, melting even faster now .....

 
 
 
Right Down the Center
Freshman Guide
2.2.1  Right Down the Center  replied to  Sparty On @2.2    3 weeks ago

I heard he tweeted aoc to stop hitting on him because he is shy. It is hilarious when people try to get in a Twitter war with him. Liz warren looked like a fool. This is going to be entertaining. A comedy and heads exploding. I need more popcorn

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
2.2.2  Sparty On  replied to  Right Down the Center @2.2.1    3 weeks ago

Liz Warren is a fool.

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
3  Sean Treacy    3 weeks ago

The entire left wing freak out about Musk and pushing the "misinformation" narrative demonstrates the benefit of having the MSM working as the dem's public relations firm.   Spreading misinformation to help Democrats (and Sargent is as good as it gets at it) is what they exist for. 

Just this week, Biden nominated for  a  Federal Judgeship, (not an internet commenter) someone who publicly argued that cops kill  unarmed  black men everyday. That lie is believed by a majority of Democrats and fueled riots that killed dozens, injured hundreds of police , saw federal government buildings assaulted and billions of dollars of damage to property.   And the only way you'd know about this spreader of misinformation being nominated to an ACTUAL JUDGE is if you pay attention to CSPAN or right wing news sites.  But Musk is the problem. 

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
3.1  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Sean Treacy @3    3 weeks ago

Elon Musk will claim to be a disinterested third party while he runs Twitter. Meanwhile he is attacking Democrats. What kind of fool would faith in him to run twitter fairly? 

The right has lied so much and to such a phenomenal extent they can no longer tell truth from lies and right from wrong. 

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
3.1.1  Sean Treacy  replied to  JohnRussell @3.1    3 weeks ago
Elon Musk will claim to be a disinterested third party while he runs Twitter. Meanwhile he is attacking Democrats

Why are you more upset about a guy running twitter than a soon to be Judge who lies about police killing unarmed blacks?

 
 
 
Right Down the Center
Freshman Guide
3.1.2  Right Down the Center  replied to  JohnRussell @3.1    3 weeks ago

He will run it as fairly as it is being run now. 

 
 
 
pat wilson
Professor Guide
3.2  pat wilson  replied to  Sean Treacy @3    3 weeks ago
The entire left wing freak out about Musk

Hyperbole much ?

 
 
 
Gsquared
Junior Principal
3.2.1  Gsquared  replied to  pat wilson @3.2    3 weeks ago
Hyperbole much ?

Exactly.  Musk, Twitter.  WHO CARES?

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
3.2.2  Sean Treacy  replied to  pat wilson @3.2    3 weeks ago

Lol.. You call that hyperbole in yet another  seed freaking about Musk? 

 
 
 
pat wilson
Professor Guide
3.2.3  pat wilson  replied to  Sean Treacy @3.2.2    3 weeks ago

When you put it in the terms that you did, yes, it's hyperbole.

 
 
 
Right Down the Center
Freshman Guide
3.2.4  Right Down the Center  replied to  Gsquared @3.2.1    3 weeks ago

Watch CNN and  msnbc coverage of it. It seems the media and the democrats care a great deal about it.

 
 
 
Gsquared
Junior Principal
3.2.5  Gsquared  replied to  Right Down the Center @3.2.4    3 weeks ago

I haven't watched CNN for a while.  I do watch MSNBC and their coverage of the story has been minimal to practically none.

I don't have a Twitter account.  It doesn't interest me at all.  Musk seems like a jerk from what I've heard about him over the years.  I don't care about Twitter or Musk.

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
Professor Guide
3.2.6  Thrawn 31  replied to  Gsquared @3.2.5    3 weeks ago

Yeah, I’ve never had Twitter and never wanted to have it. Honestly it is kind of depressing how influential it has somehow become. 

And yeah, Musk does seem like he is a bit of a prick if you were to ever meet him. I am glad that Tesla stuck around though and pushed all electric vehicles into the mainstream, the switch from the internal combustion engine is one that has to be made ASAP and Tesla’s success really helped speed it up.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
3.2.7  devangelical  replied to  Thrawn 31 @3.2.6    3 weeks ago

I was on twitter more than a dozen years ago, just to taunt dumb ass bill o'reilly. I had some local sexual harassment info on him back when he was a TV reporter in denver. he responded a few times with some threats and then eventually blocked me. haven't used it since. IMO all social media has a shelf life and musk may have revived twitter temporarily buying it, but he bought it on the decline and I don't see a way for him to turn a profit on his investment in the future, at least not without charging users for it in some way. I don't use it now and won't ever be paying to use it.

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
4  Sparty On    3 weeks ago

As opposed to the left wing extremism that drove him to buy it in the first place?

Funny stuff man, funny stuff.

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
Professor Guide
4.1  Thrawn 31  replied to  Sparty On @4    3 weeks ago

Lol no one “drove” him to do anything. He bought it because he could. He wanted his own social media platform and did t feel like starting g from scratch. 

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
4.1.1  Sparty On  replied to  Thrawn 31 @4.1    3 weeks ago
no one “drove” him to do anything.

Opinions on that do vary.

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
Professor Guide
5  Thrawn 31    3 weeks ago

I think this will end up being a negative for Twitter. Seems like every time you relax moderation all you get is people being bigger assholes and giving extremists a platform to spout their bullshit. 

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
5.1  Sparty On  replied to  Thrawn 31 @5    3 weeks ago

Time will tell.     I’m not sure moderation will necessarily be relaxed.    I’m guessing the idea is to mete it out in a more even and fair manner.

 
 

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