Buying Twitter would give Elon Musk an enormous amount of power
“[It] cannot be compared to anything that has ever existed, and allows intervention into the integrity of individual behavior and also the integrity of collective behavior.”
A few weeks back, Elon Musk unhinged his metaphorical jaw and began attempting to devour the entirety of Twitter, something the social media behemoth unsurprisingly did not appreciate. And while it is currently unclear if he will be successful in this gastronomic endeavor, many experts are worried that the societal consequences will be unimaginable if he manages to pull it off.
“This is a disaster,” Shoshana Zuboff, author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, summarily told The Washington Post over the weekend, later explaining that Musk’s potential access to Twitter’s private data troves “cannot be compared to anything that has ever existed, and allows intervention into the integrity of individual behavior and also the integrity of collective behavior.”
In short, the digital landscape could be altered in such a way that makes Facebook’s effects appear almost quaint. Zuckerberg, for all his billionaire villainy, is still at least somewhat beholden to a board of directors, as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission. A private Twitter owned by Elon Musk is an entirely different, immeasurably more toxic, beast.
“Incompatible with democracy” — At the core of this issue is the imbalance of power that comes with a single person in complete control of a structure as massive, impactful, and far-reaching as Twitter. The social media platform founded by Jack Dorsey consistently averages over 200 million active users per month, and so much of their information and data could be utilized at Musk’s discretion. It probably is worth noting here that Musk and the concept of “discretion” are virtually antithetical to one another.
Needs addressing regardless of outcome — As it stands, there still is a good chance that Musk doesn’t assume the throne as Technoking of Twitter, but either way, regulators absolutely still need to address the larger issues of power and private data accumulation, especially when platforms like Facebook and Twitter actively influence public opinion and, sometimes to the point of having actual physical consequences.