MSNBC host Ari Melber had a revealing moment on Monday that seemed almost a clinical (if not comical) example of transference. Melber warns that Elon Musk might actually use Twitter to “secretly ban” or “turn down the reach” of a political party or candidate. That is apparently worse than Twitter openly banning candidates and suspending accounts of conservatives for years. Melber is warning the left that Twitter could be used against them . . . the way it has been used against their opponents. He emphasized “this thing matters a ton.” That is a ton more than it mattered for the last six years.
Melber warned his viewers that
“If you own all of Twitter or Facebook or what have you, you don’t have to explain yourself, you don’t even have to be transparent, you could secretly ban one party’s candidate or all of its candidates, all of it nominees. Or you could just secretly turn down the reach of their stuff and turn up the reach of something else and the rest of us might not even find about it til after the election.”
That is precisely what Twitter has been doing without a whimper of objection from most pundits on the left.
Melber actually warns that Musk might secretly ban political figures while warning that Donald Trump will have his ban lifted by Musk. While Trump said that he will not return to Twitter, Melber is worried that he could be allowed to tweet again.
None of this was a threat to democracy when Twitter was suspending dozens of political figures and commentators, including the President of the United States.
However, now it is dire as Musk threatens to restore free speech protections to the platform:
“It’s true if you are a democracy like the United States that used to regulate media ownership and say Rupert Murdoch can’t have too many local TV stations and newspapers in one town, they have laws for that are still on the books. Congress hasn’t gotten round to limiting whether someone can own all of Twitter.”
So media figures are calling for government regulation of media after the first major victory against corporate censorship. Musk may prove a fraud or prove to be a champion of free speech. Yet, it is hard to see the downside given the massive censorship system now imposed across social media. There remain media figures who would prefer censorship to the outbreak of free speech.
It seems that, when it comes to free speech, there are simply some people you cannot reach.