Last week Elon Musk became Twitter's largest shareholder, and just days after, Musk announced a wish to buy Twitter and make it a private company. Many people have speculated why, and though Musk said that Twitter could be the last real democratic tool, there might be a greater plan behind the wish to acquire Twitter.
By Editor Morten B. ReitoftI must admit I don't like Twitter much. When Musk refers to democracy, of course, freedom of speech and the ability to express yourself freely is part of the democracy - but in my mind, the more significant thing is the conversation, the discussions, and the understanding, learning, knowledge, that drives the democratic debate.
That is, however, almost the opposite of Twitter. With its extremely short and fast messaging format, Twitter doesn't really formulate a dialogue but more a monologue. I, of course, know and understand that Tweets CAN be followed and commented on, but if you think of the bigger picture, democracy is way more complex than 140 characters and endless hashtags. If democracy mainly is the right to express anything to anybody, democracy has lost. As Monica Lewinsky said in this EXCELLENT TED Talk, 'because you have the freedom to speak, it doesn't mean that you have to speak!'Following American elections in the past years, democracy has been under HUGE stress as families, friends, and co-workers can't discuss politics openly without risk. The essence of democracy is that we can all express our opinions, listen to arguments, and form our own opinions. If we can't do that, Twitter won't change anything - whoever owns it!
Democracy is more about our will to participate in the debate, participate in elections, be active in our communities, and formulate a better world.Buying newspapers - on paper or online - used to be an excellent way to get a broad understanding of what goes on, but many newspapers are today biased towards their readership. See FoxNews vs. CNN. The two American channels are probably equally bad since reporting the same political challenge is often seen as entirely opposite - and can that be true at all? Or reporting from wars, like the one in Ukraine right now, you see people trying to defend the Russians - and yes, truth is the first victim in any war. Still, it's a fact that Russians can now be imprisoned for talking against the Putin regime, so no, they can't be defended now, and what we see in Russia is not supporting democracy.
Analysts ask whether Musk's offer is genuine or just a scam in public. On one measure, Musk is right. Twitter is not like LinkedIn or Facebook, or other SoMe channels - it's yet not flooded with advertising, so it may still have the potential to develop into something more profound. Still, maybe Musk sees Twitter in another context as well. Elon Musk owns the satellite constellation Starlink, which eventually will consist of 40,000 satellites giving internet access to every corner of the world. With access to critical infrastructure and a platform to utilize freedom of speech, Musk enables democracy in a way that governments can't control. Remember that governments today can switch on/off the internet to their liking on a country level. That will NOT be possible in a combination of Twitter and StarLink.Another thing that I am pretty sure also plays a role in Musk's master plan is Tesla. Tesla is not only cars. Tesla is also way more than technology, like roofs, battery backup systems, and energy on a large scale becomes part of the global grid that we will all depend on in the future.
Finally - at least for now - if you look at the other big guys. Jeff Bezos owns Amazon, and where most of us see Amazon as a retailer, Amazon has become an indispensable infrastructure to hundreds of thousands of companies and today delivers some of the smartest infrastructures to the world. Microsoft, Apple, and Google have their own IT infrastructure. Musk do not!Twitter is, maybe, to most people about Tweets and Tweeting. Twitter is ALSO an infrastructure company and has behind the scene technologies like Bootstrap used by millions of web pages today, so buying Twitter COULD also be seen as a way for Musk to fast-track an infrastructure that is WAY more than 'freedom of speech.' It could quickly become an essential part of StarLink, Energy balancing, and IT infrastructure, freeing Musk from dependence on any other software company.
--If Elon Musk acquires Twitter, Trump will be back!
This is one headline I read researching this article, and yes, the headline is written as a 'threat' by some who don't like Trump. The 'problem' with democracy is that the law limits freedom of speech. So regardless of fights against any opinion you dislike or disagree with, it HAS to be with the same armory. Words, opinions, arguments, and the debate. Will democracy win? Unfortunately, democracy is not a given, and looking through history, democracy comes and goes with the people giving any ruler legitimacy.