Can Elon Musk save free speech, asks Mark Dolan
Free speech is on life support.
The billionaire founder of the car company Tesla, the payments company PayPal and the space exploration company SpaceX, Elon Musk knows his onions. This South African-born, US citizen has already changed the world several times over, in his short 50 years. Transforming the way we pay for goods, PayPal was a bonkers idea when it first started, and investors said it would never work. The motor industry said that Tesla, the electric car company he created was hugely overvalued, and a bubble about to burst. Well, its current market valuation, makes it the most prized automobile brand on Earth. What the car industry called a white elephant, is now the hard to ignore, elephant in the room. Space X is another groundbreaker, developing rockets that don't just go to the far-flung corners of the universe, but they come back too, reducing the potential cost of space exploration, by up to 40 times. Waste not want not, eh?
Like all great innovators, Elon Musk is a maverick, getting through wives and girlfriends more quickly than James Corden gets through burgers and hotdogs. Musk is erratic, at one point saying he was going to sell all of his property, briefly abandoning the very idea of capitalism itself. A bit ironic, coming from the ultimate capitalist and one of the richest men on God’s earth. Plus he regularly gets stoned on Joe Rogan’s podcast and makes bold public announcements, that crash the value of his shares. You don't have to be bonkers to be a great innovator, but it helps.
But the message is a clear one – underestimate Elon Musk at your peril. The latest chapter in his plan for world domination, casts him as the saviour of free speech. He is the single biggest shareholder of Twitter, but he seems to be an unhappy owner, calling out twitter’s now relentless censorship. It seems he wants to buy it, to save it. Twitter, the social media platform with around 200 million users, is supposed to be like the Internet itself. A free and open marketplace of ideas.
Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have for years provided a platform for terrorists, sex offenders, gangsters, drug dealers – you name it. But their defence has always been: “oh no, we are not publishers, like a newspaper, we are just a platform. Nothing we can do about it”. And they have been incredibly slow over the years, to tackle some truly hateful behaviour on their platforms. But they're all too happy to step in when those expressing their views, don't align with the ultra-politically correct, woke narrative, pedalled by these platforms. Any questions about the origins of Covid, or whether lockdowns work, questions about mask efficacy, or vaccine side effects will see you censored, slapped down with a warning, or even removed altogether.
One such example is Dr Robert Malone, quite literally one of the inventors of the mRNA vaccine and who actually received the Covid vaccine himself. But he is concerned about side-effects, which are real, and takes the view that the jab should be focussed on those who risk hospitalisation and death. He may be right, he may be wrong, but purely by taking a considered and clearly ultra-qualified view, this world-renowned vaccine expert, was permanently removed from the platform.
Welcome to hell.
What about the European Medicines Agency? That's right the European Medicines Agency. Doesn't get more belt and braces than that – effectively an arm of European government. They hosted a press conference, in which they questioned the wisdom of boosters every four or six months, given the unknown impact it might have on the immune system long-term.
Just to reiterate this is the European Medicines Agency.
Anything that doesn’t fit their narrow and often discredited agenda, is misleading. If you’d speculated a year ago that Covid might have come from a lab in China, that would've got you axed from the platform. Now it's considered a highly likely source of the virus. Go figure. And in terms of censorship, most notably, the former president of the United States, the democratically elected leader of the free world Donald Trump, was taken off Twitter, whilst the Taliban a twisted and dangerous cabal of murderous gangsters and Vladimir Putin who needs no introduction, remain on the platform. Explain that one to me.
Evidence based science, has been another victim of this pandemic, with Professor Carl Hennigan from the University of Oxford, if you've heard of it, again, censored.
The Prof was slapped with a ‘fake news’ warning after sharing a Mail on Sunday article about an Oxford University study that found Britain’s coronavirus death toll may be lower than thought. It flashed up alerts to those sharing the Mail Online link to the article, saying: ‘Warning: this link may be unsafe. The link you are trying to access has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially unsafe.’
Sorry it’s you Twitter and your terrifying censorship which are unsafe.
Twitter, with its footprint as an early adopter, is at this stage insurmountable. A bit like Google in relation to search engines - they have an effective monopoly. So we need action now. Because free speech in the western world is on life-support. And Elon Musk, might just be the man to save it.
It’s been Elon-time coming.
Twitter is a Musk-buy.
Another one bites the Musk?
That last one didn’t make sense.
I personally have zero agenda – I just want freedom. Anything goes as far as I’m concerned, within the boundaries of the law. I don't want a platform that encourages one line of thought or another. But one that, like GB News, welcomes all opinion. Have you ever seen me censor or shoot someone down? It's never happened, and it never will, not on my watch. We've seen mainstream media operated very much the same way. Providing narrow coverage of the pandemic, casting it as the sequel to the bubonic plague. How many of the lines of questioning from journalists to those press conferences, was always about why we're not having more lockdowns, longer faster tougher. It seems many in the press and in broadcasting just love to see the public being controlled. And that's what this tech censorship on platforms like Twitter is all about. By controlling what you say, they seek to control what you think and what you do. This land grab our intellectual freedom, has been in the pipeline for years, accelerated by the huge propaganda opportunity of the pandemic. It won't work of course.
In the end, the truth will out. All of these outlets claim “fake news”, for anything they don't like the look of. Fake news and disinformation is really just shorthand, for anything that doesn't fit the prescribed narrative. But the success of the West, of freedom-loving liberal democracy, has always been the competition of ideas. No one has a monopoly on the facts, in science, in history, on morality, empathy, on the truth. What the tech giants don't realise, is that with this micromanaging of public discourse, they are actually sowing the seeds for their own downfall. As proved by the excellent video sharing app Rumble who went viral this week, after being criticised by the mainstream newspaper Globe and Mail, for not having censorship on their video platform.
How disgusting that this censorious purge of journalism should come from other journalists, on this occasion at the Globe and Mail.
We must fight to protect the hard-won freedoms of the West, for which so many gave their lives in two world wars. I won't hold my breath that change will come any time soon, because these platforms are controlled by rich and powerful vested interests. It will therefore take a rich and powerful individual, or organisation, to take them on. Which is why Elon Musk is right to use his power for good. I hope he succeeds.
Free speech is non-negotiable and the essential foundation of a liberal society. For how much longer, will I be able to say that?