Stella: Let’s give Elon Musk the benefit of the doubt

Michael Stella, Staff Reporter

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Twitter is the king of social media. No other social media platform offers a forum for debate and civic engagement quite like Twitter does. It’s the place where an increasing number of people get their news and where news is spread.

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After all, at the end of any Collegian article, reporters put their Twitter handles for people to follow them, not any other platform handles.

No other platform is a better physical representation of freedom of speech than Twitter. What screams free speech more than a platform on which every American can openly share their opinions and engage in debate?

While Twitter is the king of social media, it is not perfect. Just like its new owner, Elon Musk, it is not infallible.

Twitter has had its issues throughout its short life. Twitter was launched in 2006, which makes it a few years younger than most current Colorado State University undergraduates.

Twitter did not make a profit until 2018. It literally did not have a profitable year until 2018.  It also has a long list of issues it faces when it comes to free speech. Between bots, the algorithm and handling certain controversial posts, there needs to be a change at Twitter headquarters.

And what does any company, sports team or organization do when they are struggling to improve? Change leadership.

Musk likely is not the ideal candidate to be the next owner of Twitter, but if he is going to take on the challenge, he deserves the benefit of the doubt in regard to his proposed changes.

Twitter could not continue with the same old method. It is time for a change. What does it say about Twitter leadership that they sold to Musk instead of trying to right the ship themselves?

Musk also dissolved the governing board of Twitter to get rid of the old leadership.

Clearing the board is a solid move that will allow Musk to usher in needed changes. What was not needed, however, was Musk laying off a considerable number of global employees. The average worker should not be a victim on the path to a better Twitter.

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Modern society is too quick to judge new ideas, and that is what is happening with Musk and the changes he proposed, which oddly is a unique characteristic of Twitter culture.

“In the end, Twitter is the platform best suited for public debate and discourse, a core American value. Twitter also needs to make changes to better fill its role as a site of public engagement.”

Musk has proposed that a new feature of Twitter would look something like a video game room wherein verified accounts can face off against each other, like a debate. This has the potential to be beneficial for free speech.

Prior to taking Twitter private, Musk expressed his dislike of bots on the platform. Bots are a significant problem on Twitter. They can be used for misinformation, and getting rid of bots is also important to advertisers, which comprise Twitter’s main revenue source.

It cannot be determined if Musk’s proposed and enacted changes to Twitter will be good or bad for free speech on Twitter. There is only one way to find out, and that is by waiting it out.

In the end, Twitter is the platform best suited for public debate and discourse — core American values. Twitter also needs to make changes to better fill its role as a site of public engagement.

The world needs leaders to take on challenges like reforming Twitter, which has more than 400 million global active monthly users, and while Musk may not be the most appealing person to take over Twitter, he deserves credit for taking on the challenge.

After Musk completed the acquisition of Twitter, he tweeted, “the bird is freed.” The bird is freed indeed, and in due time, it will likely be better for free speech because of Musk.

Reach Michael Stella at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @Michaelstella_.