“The Gates of Hell Opened”: A Media Panic Ensues As Musk Takes Over Twitter and Fires Chief Censors

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Last night I wrote a column on the challenges faced by Elon Musk in taking over Twitter and suggested steps to “hit the ground running.” One of those obvious steps discussed in earlier columns was to fire CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal and head of legal policy, trust, and safety Vijaya Gadde, the primary figures responsible for creating one of the largest censorship systems in history. He did so within minutes of taking over and their removal constitutes as singular advances in the cause of free speech around the world. As expected, this morning media figures are in full panic at the thought that one social media platform may restore free speech protections after years of biased and aggressive censorship. The controversial Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz lamented, “It’s like the gates of hell opened on this site tonight.”  That’s right, the prospect of others having access to Twitter to express their own views is a hellish prospect for many in the media.

279 thoughts on ““The Gates of Hell Opened”: A Media Panic Ensues As Musk Takes Over Twitter and Fires Chief Censors”

    1. “GM has stopped advertising on Musk’s Twitter.”
      Not exactly. “[W]e [GM] have temporarily paused our paid advertising.”

  1. Frankly I don’t know why this is even an argument to begin with. Free speech is just that: F-R-E-E. ALL speech is and should be protected around the world as one opinion of one individual, period trouble is because those who want to censor can’t argue their baseless worthless facts and circumstances effectively, then when a silence those who don’t obey and follow their narrative. And before you start screaming I’m a right winger advocate, this goes for them, too. The stronghold GAB has over Elon Musk in this case is anything (almost) goes there; death threats aren’t permitted (but Salman Rushdie and J. K. Rowling can have that garbage mailed to their houses?), but everything else is. People need the simple faith and confidence in themselves to regulate their own speech, not having outside forces to tell them what they can or cannot say. This is not the media’s job, your neighbor’s job, your boss, family members, friends’ jobs. It’s yours, mine, theirs, and our jobs. Leave us to it, then. Thank you.

  2. I don’t understand if Musk is alledgedly so gung ho about free speech why he needs to form some kind of “content moderation advisory panel” before reinstating accounts that have been banned. He alledges this council will be formed of people with diverse viewpoints but so many things touting their diversity these days are either shallow fig leafs a la a rainbow coalition thought clone hive or otherwise just serve as code for anti-white / anti-male / anti-Christian. I mean I’d like to believe Elon Musk is going to improve twitter but this same guy wants to put wires in all of our brains to deal with the singularity. Just because he is the most relatable of the tech billionaires doesn’t mean he isn’t a globalist at the end of the day like the rest of them. I don’t know what would be so hard about having a social media site follow the first amendment meaning as long as content posted wasn’t illegal like CP, Incitement, Threats etc. why can’t people post whatever and let the open exchange of ideas decide? There is no mention of a content advisory panel or whatever in the first amendment. I wish I could be as optimistic as Turley but I have my misgivings. I guess all we can do is wait and see who is right.

    1. Based on the first day after the transition, there are many tweets testing the waters that use the n-word, holocaust denial, and other things that will offend many people. I believe the content moderation advisory panel will help Elon decide where to draw the line, transparently. I expect
      1) Twitter will take the position it’s not responsible for what people post on the site, and
      2) The only restrictions will be for those things definately illegal under US law. One tweet I saw last night pointed out that other countries have different laws. My response was basically, so what? Should Twitter censor posts supporting women’s rights in Iran?

      There were many bemoaning the change, harping on the lack of restrictions on “hate”, which seemed to be defined as “anyting that harshes my mellow”. Not that we needed the reminder after the past few years, but there are obviously too many insular people who just don’t understand the point of free speech.

      1. Twitter – whether under Musk or left wing nuts must be something that people value or it will die or become a silo for one perspective.

        I do not know What Musk will do.

        I expect he will take a very minimalist approach to censorship if that results in Twitter having the greatest value.

        Each of us can rant about hate speech or true free speech.
        But the ultimate test of what Twitter should and should not censor is the free market.

        Musk just spent $44B, I do not think he did so out of the kindness of his heart.
        One way or another he is going to make twitter worth $100B.

        And the test of what he will censor will be what moves Twitter towards greater value.

        One thing I think absolutely will change is transparency. I beleve Musk will move towards CLEAR rules for content moderation and he will stick to those. Those rules might evolve over time, but changes will be made transparently and with clarity.

        I also think Musk will find a way to make content moderation as neutral as possible.
        So that there is minimal claims of political bias.

        1. If Musk follows the dollar, as I expect, he will not overreach suddenly veering toward the right. He wants a maximum number of people using Twitter. That means he can’t do anything to cause a mass movement off the platform by those on the left.

          The big question is how much of his monetization he expects to garner from Twitter’s sale of personal information.

          If a totally rational buyer when making his overpriced bit, he would have felt that profits would substantially increase, so the extra $10 a share would mean very little in the long term. The high price paid would be to prevent others from blocking his purchase.

          Based on what I perceive has been sloppy management at Twitter, I do not perceive Musk to lose money. How much he makes is determined by the two-edged sword of technology (theoretically making Twitter ancient or futuristic) and how government intervention reacts.

          1. If anything, he might well prove the theory that at most there are relatively few squeaky wheels demanding to be greased and a bunch of bot accounts complaining about “hate!”, “ableists” and other forms of “ist-aphides”.

    2. Reports are mixed as to keeping ‘content moderation’

      I have seen some sites get so toxic, that most of the people leave with only a core of jerks staying around.

      Another question (and I don’t know what the answer is) will be the flood of realistic deep fake videos showing candidates saying offensive or treasonous things. The technology to do this is already in the hands of nation states and technologically sophisticated groups. This could facilitate a ‘color revolution’ right here in America. Is it free speech or election interference?

      1. “Reports are mixed as to keeping ‘content moderation’”
        What does that mean ?

        “I have seen some sites get so toxic, that most of the people leave with only a core of jerks staying around.”
        Twitter as it was a few days ago leaps to mind.
        Censorship and enforcing civility are NOT the same thing.

        My preference would be to restrict speech as little as possible – even civility requirements as enforcing those often becomes politically biased too.

        Further content moderation requires staff and that comes at cost and Twitter is not profitable.

        “Another question (and I don’t know what the answer is) will be the flood of realistic deep fake videos showing candidates saying offensive or treasonous things. The technology to do this is already in the hands of nation states and technologically sophisticated groups. This could facilitate a ‘color revolution’ right here in America. Is it free speech or election interference?”

        The techonlogy is available to anyone. But we have NOT seen a massive explosion of deep fakes.
        Likely because there is more to pulling off a credible fake than a video that is perfect. The video has to have a provenance – a place and time that it occured and real people do not say things in a vacuum so there must be witnesses.

        Put simply you are worried about things that are unlikely.
        Much is made of what happened in 2016 – the Russian IRA spent a tiny amount of money to produce crappy campaign adds that come out mostly AFTER the election featuring Bernie, Clinton and Trump in equal numbers and these were done incredibly badly. They effected no one.

        But Beyond that – lets say Russia gets better at producing these and runs them during the campaign – So what ?

        Just the media story that will result about Russia participating in US elections will harm the candidate purportedly benefiting.

        As Brandeis said a century ago – The remedy for bad speech is more speech.

        Unlike Election fraud, which can tip close elections and does completely undermine trust,

        Actual free speech BUILDS trust.
        I not only expect Musk to ask Trump to return to Twitter – I hope he allows Der Sturmer.

        Contra the left We WANT the worst there is out in public where we can see them.

        For every recruit the extremists make, 1,000,000 people learn who they really are and laugh and jeer.
        And ultimately we all realize how small they actually are.

        We have DOJ and FBI ranting about the rise in white supremecist violence.
        Yet, the facts available to most of us do not show that.
        And the DOJ guidelines for identifying a white supremecist catches half the country.
        Regardless, we have a real rising epidemic of violence – but it is not on the right and it is not mostly political – despite the medias relentless effort to attribute every act of violence in the country to the right.

        We have institutions like CDC telling us how to deal with Covid – how is it that we know they are being truthful ?

        Contra the left – Trust does not come from lots of degrees and a position of authority in govenrment.

        Trust is created in the crucible of public debate.

        The left is idiotically afraid of the tiny numbers that will be mislead if the extremes get to speak – fearful that they can persuade half the country.
        That does not happen with actual free press, with actual free speech.
        In fact the censorship we have now makes radical ideas more plausible. We justifiably do not trust the press – because they have lied to us repeatedly and been caught – and they continue to do so. They have cried wolf over and over when there was no wolf, so few will beleive them if an actual wolf comes.

    3. The reason behind this is that Google and Apple will not allow their app on their download store without Content Moderators. Which is a bunch of horse manure. Obviously just like on a plane or a crowded theater rules should apply. Almost could control language and threats. This is why Trust social was having issues with the Google store and their obvious bias. Apple put it up right away as they had content moderators but Google fought them. Funny Google founders coming from a Communist country still love forms of totalitarianism.

    4. I think that you have to consider that there really does need to be some control otherwise it could become just another pornography site.

  3. Musk acquiring Twitter and firing those speech Nazis is like the liberation of Europe at the end of WW2.

    If liberals and democrats are looking for the modern incarnation of fascism, the nearest mirror will suffice.

  4. Freedom of Speech and Association is a large part of Democracy. Democracy can’t survive without it. These potential risks are all solvable problems.

    First, speech that advocates law breaking or violence is also legitimate for investigation. In real practice, real cops will investigate those posts regardless of 4th Amendment law. They do it every day for non-threatening speech.

    Second, what about audience size? Does someone have 10 followers or 1,000,000. Even a large number of followers, how do they organize and plan criminal activity?

    Third, consult arguably America’s top expert on this topic “Ira Glasser” (documentary “Mighty Ira”). The top expert excluded from most news organizations discussing these issues.

    For example: How to counter someone like Trump’s false statements being broadcast to roughly 60 million readers? First require internet-posters to use a Hollywood type ratings system to self-label their posts (ie: PG, R, Nudity, Violence, Political Speech, etc). Then allow parents and adults to set “viewing filters” to filter out posts they don’t want to see.

    It’s likely most Americans would filter out “Political Speech” altogether, they would never read Trump’s rhetoric anyway. Maybe 20% do read Trump’s propaganda (roughly 60 million readers).

    For that minority, social media companies could use The Washington Post “Pinocchio Icon Tool”. The more Pinocchio’s the more false it is rated. Zero Pinocchios indicates it’s mostly true. Fact checkers could also provide “footnotes” to reputable sources backing their assessment.

    For example: when Trump said drinking bleach could cure Covid, that would receive the maximum number of Pinocchios. There could be footnotes from real doctors warning not to drink bleach as a medicine. Trump could provide his own footnotes of where his information derived from and let readers decide.

    1. Trump did not say, “said drinking bleach could cure Covid.” He was speaking speculatively, not advisedly. about UV light and mentioned internalized or injected disinfectant. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRnxr4XF9yA

      He was probably referring to the iodine disinfectant nasal rinse that obliterates the covid corona virus if done at a very early stage of infection.

      1. His statement was alegorical, ‘wouldn’t it be good if we could just disinfect our blood like we do with objects’. He did NOT suggest people consume bleach.

    2. ” when Trump said drinking bleach could cure Covid, that would receive the maximum number of Pinocchios. “

      AZ, you get 5 Pinocchios for repeating the left-wing media and not knowing what you talk about. maybe there should also be an ignorance rating. You would get 5 Pinocchios and 5 I’s for this present bit of foolishness. Trump never said what you think he said.

    3. You are even worse than Trump. He never said “drinking bleach could cure COVID.”
      That’s your editorializing his comments to make it about him and putting words in his mouth.

      FFS, content labeling is the only helpful thing you stated.

      At the schools, gay/lesbian/trans books being forced on minors (particularly, below the age of 16) should be not be in any K-8 schools at all. PERIOD. NONE.
      At the 9-12 level, the parent should be the decider if ANY TEACHER attempts to introduce this for any assignment. The content of particular books are pornographic – https://jasonpowers.substack.com/p/libraries-books-sit-on-a-dusty-shelf – and should be on an approved-by-parent in a schools’ assignment. And that book should be on a limited checkout – at a school.

      LIBRARIES should also rate books – and since the LEFT attempts to contort this into censorship – my personal view is: guard rails are needed, especially, now.

      The destruction of critical thought by sexualizing kids online, or in a classroom, is despicable. Recent scores reflect HOW BAD adults served children these last 2 1/2 years.

      THIS is the Teacher’s Unions (that should be dissolved), the Teachers (who are indoctrinated) and the curriculum (fueled in the 2010s by one Bill Gates) FAULT.

      Not any kids’ fault AT ALL.

      I spent several months in 2021 at Tutor.com trying to help 9-Grad Students with writing, and the like. The assignments I saw SPOKE volumes about what teachers were throwing at the kids. The level of aptitude of these poor kids was horrific. Most can’t even construct sentences at a high school level as 4th year seniors in college. The substance of their writing was based in hateful and sexualized reading assignments that disgusted even me. (And I’ve been in the Navy and in the joint for over 2 years in 2001-2003. Meaning: I’ve seen and heard things that would frighten the hell out of average Americans. These are kids with prefrontal cortex still not fully mature – 25 – and I am only this amendable because restrictions end at 18. This is when we declare adult responsibility for all actions.)

      So to the problem: We need a debate of ideas. Ideas about improving one’s thinking, designing an American future, a society that functions on improvement, not peddling propaganda to score political points. I fear though “certain” people in the last decade have swallowed more propaganda from the media than can be overcome now.

      1. JasonP,

        You might not be aware but this web log only permits two hyperlinks per comment. I edited your comment by removing the scheme and subdomain of the extra links so that it would post. If you would like the readers to review more than two hyperlinks this can be accomplished by using multiple comments having two or fewer links each.

    4. Ashcroft: One doesn’t have to read your whole screed to get your viewpoint. This portion says it all: “How to counter someone like Trump’s false statements…” Yeah, sure. Most of us believe everything Pelosi, Schumer, Schiff, et al say to us. Never a question as to their veracity and truth telling. Only if YOUR fact checkers will tell us the REAL truth. What a great idea!

    5. This shows you are a CHUMP, who believes the medias BS propaganda. He never said that and it has been proven for over 2 years now.

      PolitiFact’s ruling: Mostly False.

      Here’s why: Joe Biden criticized President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying during a speech on the economy that Trump had given up trying to manage a crisis he’s ill equipped to solve.

      “And when it comes to COVID-19, after months of doing nothing, other than predicting the virus would disappear, or maybe if you drank bleach you may be okay, Trump has simply given up,” said Biden, who delivered his remarks at a metalworks factory near his hometown of Scranton on Thursday.

      Trump spoke about the role he thought disinfectants could play in tackling an infection caused by the virus during a now infamous April 23 briefing. But he didn’t say people should drink bleach.

      So, Trump is talking about how disinfectants may aide in stopping the virus (i.e. everyone was using bleach, or something to kill it, NOT ONCE did he say anything about drinking the damned bleach, that came from liberal propagandists, the same ones who spread the Russia BS you bought.

    6. You ought to take a serious look on where you get your news. For all your concern about “falsehoods” your comment is chock full of them. Fail!

  5. Lets step back an see what development is in the making as we wait with bated breath for King Musk and his next adventure for all man kind.

  6. “… the gates of Hell…
    So scriptural today! My absolute favorite line in the KJV Bible is from a letter of Paul’s: “Professing themselves wise, they became fools.” I had no idea Paul had the addresses for Taylor Lorenz et stupids.

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