Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and Space X, launched a poll on Twitter on Friday to ask whether or users of the platform believed that "Twitter rigorously adheres" to the principle that "free speech is essential to a functioning democracy."
Musk said that the "consequences of this poll will be important," and to "Please vote carefully."
After nearly 1.5 million votes, the answer was a resounding "no."
This was after Musk stated that Twitter's algorithm should be open source, to which former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey replied that the choice of which algorithm to use should be a choice for users.
In response to Musk's ask, Twitter users piled into the comments to suggest that Musk, a known and inventive entrepreneur, should launch a platform to rival Twitter, one that would embrace and the unique and quintessential value of free speech.
Others simply asked if Musk was considering buying the platform.
On Saturday, Musk pushed speculation further by simply tweeting: "Is a new platform needed?"
Prior to Jack Dorsey stepping down as CEO of Twitter, there had already been concerns about free speech on the platform. In the fall of 2020, in the lead-up to the US presidential election between Joe Biden and President Donald Trump, the platform notoriously suppressed reporting from the New York Post that provided evidence of Biden's involvement with his son's shady business dealings in Ukraine.
Twitter, and Dorsey, claimed that the information had been hacked. Democrats and their acolytes in mainstream and corporate media claimed that the information found on Hunter Biden's laptop was the product of Russian disinformation. This came from US intelligence officials, who have now been disgraced after it became clear that they were wrong in their assessment.
The reporting was proven to be true, accurate, and neither the product of a hack nor Russian disinformation. Many Americans said they would not have voted for Biden had they known about the information on the laptop. Since this debacle, censorship of Twitter has gotten worse, with many prominent conservatives, such as Tucker Carlson and Charlie Kirk getting suspended.
Twitter's suppression of the US free press had a direct impact on the US presidential election, and for this Dorsey later apologized.
When he chose a successor to his position as CEO of Twitter, in the fall of 2021, that post went to Parag Agrawal, who said:
"Our role," Agrawal, "is not to be bound by the First Amendment, but our role is to serve a healthy public conversation and our moves are reflective of things that we believe lead to a healthier public conversation."
"The kinds of things that we do about this is, focus less on thinking about free speech, but thinking about how the times have changed," Agrawal said.
"One of the changes today that we see is speech is easy on the internet. Most people can speak. Where our role is particularly emphasized is who can be heard. The scarce commodity today is attention. There's a lot of content out there. A lot of tweets out there, not all of it gets attention, some subset of it gets attention.
"And so increasingly our role is moving towards how we recommend content and that sort of, is, is, a struggle that we're working through in terms of how we make sure these recommendation systems that we're building, how we direct people's attention is leading to a healthy public conversation that is most participatory."
Many new platforms have emerged to compete with Twitter recently, including GETTR, and Trump's latest Truth Social. Neither has managed to gain the user base or the impact that Twitter has over its time online.
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