Recently, Elon Musk acknowledged that he read a Breitbart article, and sent a lot of people into a frenzy. There were a lot of big names and “blue ticks” criticizing Elon for reading the article (and believing it was true). Breitbart also posted a fiery article lashing out angrily at the “blue ticks.”
The article was extremely passive-aggressive, even when it comes to things that you actually can’t get aggressive about, however, Breitbart, with their mystical powers, astounded me by getting fired up about literally everything about the situation.
Clearly, Breitbart didn’t handle this situation professionally. We have the opportunity to look at this situation from a third-person perspective and get past the anger. So, let’s have a look at the situation.
What exactly happened?
Breitbart News reported last week that 11 of the 26 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that signed a letter of intimidation to Twitter’s advertisers were funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“What a dick move!” Musk tweeted in response to Gates’ revelations. Then, in an unfriendly manner, individuals began to say that Breitbart’s stories were badly researched and that they were part of the white nationalist media.
John Pavlovitz said, “Breitbart is the Elon Musk of white supremacist media outlets. Or, maybe you’re the Breitbart of delusional billionaires. Either way, you’re both really bad for humanity and it makes total sense you’d affirm them. Really making good on that ‘I’m going to anger both sides’ garbage.”
I will say that this is not a professional way of dealing with this situation, not that Breitbart did any better. John is really making no claim here, if you peel back all of the emotion, his argument is just utter emotion.
David Weissman says, “Have you asked for evidence of this claim? Breitbart is propaganda and is known for spreading lies.” This claim is a little less emotional and actually makes somewhat of a point, whether it is correct or not.
Finally, the nail in the coffin for Breitbart (they don’t even address this in the angry article mentioned above) is a tweet made by Dan Tynan, the best reply yet. Dan first links a copy of the letter they signed and then proceeds to claim that there were no attacks on Elon Musk. This is probably why Elon made such a Nonchalant response to this. Come to think of it, if they really were going to try to tank Tesla’s stock, wouldn’t Elon take some sort of action, not just throw in a funny tweet.
Let’s read the letter, it calls on Twitter’s top advertisers to stop advertising on the platform if: 1, Twitter fails to keep accounts including those of public figures and politicians that were removed for egregious violations of Twitter Rules – such as harassment, violence, and hateful conduct – off the platform. 2, Twitter fails to, beyond algorithmic transparency, ensure algorithmic accountability, preserve people’s privacy, and commit to depolarizing the algorithm. 3, Twitter fails to continue their commitment to transparency and researcher access.
I think these are all fair points, especially the last one, as Elon himself is also a fan of open source projects. However, where a lot of people clash with each other is the and there are multiple responses to this, firstly, this makes complete sense from a business perspective.
The letter elaborates this point by claiming, “A reversal of Twitter’s content moderation policies including its recently released climate commitments, its protections for transgender people, and its restrictions on other forms of hate, harassment, and violence would be toxic not just for those targeted, but also for businesses advertising on the platform.” The keys are those five words at the end.
Breitbart counters this by saying that this infringes on free speech. The truth is that a lot of people’s concept of free speech is broken. People assume that free speech means they can say whatever they want, but that is not true, you do have to abide by the rules of the platform you’re speaking on.
Also, if you do just wanna say whatever you want, free speech doesn’t mean that you don’t have to face the consequences if you upset some people, that is just a part of saying something controversial. Another point is that if you want to say something controversial that you think people will get upset over, just abide by Twitter’s rules, and say it instead on Truth Social or something.
I know that some people will say that sometimes rules are just badly created and that abiding by them is the worst thing you can do in these situations.
However, my response is that however much you want to deny it, hate speech sometimes genuinely ruins people’s lives, and if you want to give up their lives just because you want to merely say something, you’re being a lot more than selfish.