Elon Musk's Twitter Takeover Raises Freedom Of Speech Questions
Elon Musk is clearly working hard to earn himself the self-anointed title of “Chief Twit”.
The world’s richest man and newly-crowned Twitter owner proved that, now, anything goes on the social media app, after he shared a baseless conspiracy theory about Friday’s horrific attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband.
Musk retweeted an article suggesting that Paul Pelosi, 82, met 42-year-old David DePape – the man who would go on to violently beat him with a hammer – at a gay bar.
Alongside a link to the Santa Monica Observer piece, he wrote: “There is a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye.”
Musk was responding to the former first lady and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton who had shared an LA Times story about DePape, which claimed that he spread QAnon and other far-right conspiracy theories on social media.
Clinton wrote: "The Republican Party and its mouthpieces now regularly spread hate and deranged conspiracy theories. It is shocking, but not surprising, that violence is the result. As citizens, we must hold them accountable for their words and the actions that follow."
\u201cThe Republican Party and its mouthpieces now regularly spread hate and deranged conspiracy theories. It is shocking, but not surprising, that violence is the result. As citizens, we must hold them accountable for their words and the actions that follow.\n\nhttps://t.co/MQor4NDFeE\u201d
Musk, who has vaunted his intentions to make Twitter a bastion of “free speech” is apparently confident he won’t be held accountable for stoking the flames of conspiracy. Or, at any rate, he doesn’t care if he is.
His inflammatory tweet racked up more than 12,000 retweets and 45,000 likes in less than two hours, with commentators quick to denounce the lurid story and Musk’s promotion of it.
\u201c@elonmusk @HillaryClinton Do you really believe an 82 year old guy who is the husband of a Long time GOP target was involved in this? Wouldn\u2019t the most obvious answer make sense?\u201d
\u201cThis answers the question as to whether Elon\u2019s Twitter will devolve into an unflushable turd of disinformation and dudebro conspiracy mongering. When the Dictator of Twitter is doing it himself, it\u2019s inevitable. \ud83d\udd95\ud83d\udd95\u201d
The shocking attack on Pelosi occurred early on Friday, just two weeks before the Midterm Elections in the US.
The intruder – who police later identified as DePape – broke into the couple's San Francisco home, seizing a hammer and leaving a trail of broken glass before confronting the 82-year-old.
Witnesses said he shouted: "Where is Nancy?" before launching into his terrible assault.
The ambush was a particularly savage reminder of the extremism that has coursed through American politics in recent years, adding to a sense of foreboding as the November 8 elections approach.
Indeed, no sooner had the attack on the House Speaker’s husband taken place than several far-right conspiracies began circulating online.
And this was all taking place while the 82-year-old was undergoing surgery for a fractured scull and serious injuries to his right arm and hands.
You'd think the trolls might at least have waited until he was back resting in his hospital bed before spouting their bile. But hey, conspiracy theorists don’t care about sensitivity, respect and, you know, the truth.
Thanks for championing their cause, Elon.
Update: Elon Musk now appears to have deleted the tweet containing the story.
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