Oh how we peasants love a story about ‘a super-rich man’! At least, that’s what Auntie Beeb thinks. They lead their news page (link, at the time of writing in the early hours of this morning) with a report that Elon Musk has bought Twitter. Elon Musk is known for the Tesla e-sports cars, communication satellites and bitcoin manipulations. Unsurprisingly, this Musk buy-out of twitter is also the headline for the BBC’s compilation of the morning’s paper editions (link), with a bow to the female readers, mentioning ‘HRT’.
A quick delve into that particular collection shows that only ‘Metro’ and the Guardian are headlining that story, the rest have other ‘news’, none of which are about the Ukrainian war or covid. The MSM editors seem to realise that we plebs have had enough of biased fear porn and propaganda, so those who still buy their morning paper in print can choose between an outbreak of hepatitis in children, thanks to lockdown, or that GPs will vote today for a further cut-back on their working hours.
There’s still Partygate, there’s a Bank Holiday proposed to celebrate the Queen’s jubilee, there’s the ‘passport shambles’ incommodating all those intrepid travellers who read The Times. There’s been a ‘bloodbath, reports the Mirror, and the Star warns of an invasion of toxic caterpillars. Just another day in Blighty, with ‘problems’ for every taste and social group. Any mention of inflation and the rising cost of living is absent.
So – Musk then. There are the odd articles in the online broadsheets, and they are quite interesting. We read in the DT:
“Elon Musk has won his $44bn (£35bn) takeover battle for Twitter after the social network dropped its opposition to the Tesla billionaire’s bid. Mr Musk, the world’s richest person, promised to “make Twitter better than ever” and protect Twitter as the “digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated” […] “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.”(paywalled link)
Isn’t that nice of him! The comment posters are already jubilating that “we” will now have Free Speech, hurrah. They believe that Musk will now get rid of ‘all spam bots’ and thus all will be well. Of course they’ve not grasped what this means: ‘authenticating all humans’. Whichever hi-tech way this is going to be done it means that Mr Musk will get to possess the personal data of all who want to use Twitter – 217 million daily active users, according to the Times. Clearly, that’s peanuts compared to other social media. Look at the numbers for monthly users:
“Monthly Active Users – TikTok officially has over 1 billion monthly active users. For reference – active users of other social platforms: Facebook – 2.9B, YouTube – 2.2B, Instagram – 1.4B, TikTok – 1.0B, Snapchat – 500M, Pinterest – 480M, Twitter – 397M.” (link)
Left out of this list is ‘telegram’, with 550M monthly users. It’s the app developed by two Russians, mostly used in Russia but stationed officially in Dubai (link), so it’s not clobbered officially by the ‘info sanctions’ which western states have imposed on all things Russian, especially their MSM.
We know that our ‘statesmen’ and politicians, that our institutions such as the various police forces in the UK, all use twitter to announce their earth-shattering thoughts. We know that our dearly beloved MSM have used twitter for years as ‘source’ for their stories and reports. It’s now come to this: if it ain’t on twitter, it didn’t happen. So believing that Musk owning this platform will change anything: in yer dreams, peasants, in yer dreams!
Moreover, Twitter has now taken to blocking tweets because the content might be unsuitable for people under 18, or too harrowing, like reports from the Ukrainian war. One can no longer follow links which ‘reporters’ or indeed alt media provide unless one has a twitter account. Checking out those links, reading those tweets has become near impossible.
Furthermore, since Musk wants to ‘authenticate all human beings’ this means to me that one cannot read what is said in this ‘digital town square’ unless one has proven that one is a human being, i.e. opened an account and handed over one’s personal data.
Over the last few years it has become increasingly difficult to access information unless one is prepared to pay for it – not per use, but by monthly subscriptions or by handing over all one’s personal data to the likes of Zuckerberg who also owns Instagram, to the Chinese who own TikTok or to Russia in the case of telegram.
Yes, we knew this already – the point though is that we’re told that Free Speech exists when there’s nothing ‘free’ about it because one has to pay to play, either by subscriptions or by handing over personal data.
Let’s also not forget that the famed algorithms which decide what we are allowed to say or not say still exist. Musk declaring that he’ll make them ‘open source’ doesn’t change a thing.
Moreover it doesn’t change a thing when governments decide that anything to do with Russia must be blocked. That applies not just to Russian MSM, that applies to other Russian sources on e.g. Twitter whose algorithms – or moderators – have cancelled Russian twitter accounts right left and centre. Trying to read ‘telegram’ is difficult because the browsers are blocking links to any Russian site, e.g. a telegram account, never mind that one needs to know the Russian language to read and watch.
Free Access to information is the other side of the coin that is Free Speech. No amount of warbling about Free Speech can disguise the fact that we no longer have that free access. Why would we want to chat and tweet in that Muskian ‘digital town square’ when we can only talk about what everybody is permitted to know?
‘Knowledge is power’, the sages in ancient Rome said. Modern totalitarian states knew this full well and restricted their citizens from accessing news sources outside their jurisdiction. Listeners to the BBC in Nazi Germany were sent to their KZs. In Soviet Russia, only Party officials with ‘need to know’ were permitted access to international newspapers or scientific publications. The higher one was in that hierarchy, the more one was permitted to see.
Are we on the way back to a society aiming to keep the citizens ignorant and unable to inform themselves beyond the official propaganda line? It worked somewhat for covid – it’s working much better now in regard to Russia. Who knows if these weren’t the preliminary exercises, to be fully implemented once “we” need to accept Net Zero? How will Musk’s ‘digital town square’ work then?
Have we still not learned that the super-rich, Gates and Bezos, Zuckerberg and now Musk, do not have the wellbeing of mankind at heart? So why praise Musk now for buying Twitter? Didn’t granny say something about the proof of the pudding …?