Time writer calls free speech ‘an obsession of mostly white male members of the tech elite’ like Musk

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In a Friday article for Time magazine, the outlet’s national correspondent, Charlotte Alter, dismissed Elon Musk’s quest for free speech on Twitter as a white male “obsession” and simply an entrepreneurial way to gain influence and power in the world.

She also claimed that Musk’s idea of ​​free speech was about the right to spread “disinformation” and had nothing to do with the original intent of the Founding Fathers.

Alter began her article by insinuating that Musk should have invested his $44 billion in something more valuable than what he considers “free speech,” a phrase she put in chilling quotes throughout. along the article.

She wrote: “They say something is worth what someone will pay for it. If that’s true, then protecting ‘freedom of speech’, which Elon Musk cited as a central reason he has agreed to buy Twitter for $44 billion this week, may be worth twice as much as solving homelessness in the United States, and seven times as much as solving world hunger.”

Time Magazine has recognized 8 scientific leaders in its 100 Most Influential People list, including SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

Time Magazine has recognized 8 scientific leaders in its 100 Most Influential People list, including SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.
(Mark Seliger for TIME)

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She added: “That’s worth more (to him, at least) than educating every child in almost 50 countries, more than the GDP of Serbia, Jordan or Paraguay.”

The author then wondered why a wealthy techie like Musk would even care about free speech and how it “has become a primary concern of the techno-moral universe.”

She asked, “Why does Musk care so much? Why would a guy who’s pushed the limits of electric vehicle manufacturing and reached the limits of commercial spaceflight care about who can say what on Twitter? ?”

She then cited Stanford University communications professor Fred Turner for the response, who agreed: “It seems to be a dominant obsession among the more elite.” He stated, “[F]The discourse seems to be much more of an obsession among men,” and is part of “the entrepreneurial push: I’ve done it in business, I’ve done it in space, and now I’m going to do it in the world.

FILE - On this Sept. 18, 2019, file photo on a screen shows Twitter's stock price on the New York Stock Exchange.  Twitter said Thursday, September 10, 2020 that starting next week it will tag or remove misleading claims that attempt to undermine public confidence in elections.  (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

FILE – On this Sept. 18, 2019, file photo on a screen shows Twitter’s stock price on the New York Stock Exchange. Twitter said Thursday, September 10, 2020 that starting next week it will tag or remove misleading claims that attempt to undermine public confidence in elections. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

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Alter then asserted that “‘freedom of speech’ in the 21st century means something very different from what it did in the 18th, when the founders enshrined it in the Constitution”.

She clarified, “The right to say whatever you want without being jailed is not the same as the right to spread misinformation to millions of people on a corporate platform. This nuance seems to be lost on some techno-wizards who see all restriction as the enemy of innovation.”

The author theorized that this was part of a quest to break down boundaries, “In a culture that places a high value on achieving the impossible, some tech titans may also see the liberal consensus on acceptable discourse like another border to be broken.”

She quoted Peter Hamby, a writer for Puck News, who said: “Counter-arism is a big part of this free speech thing. If the left says, ‘I can’t do XYZ,’ that gives envy many people to do it. Read more… [contrarianism] becomes this ideology in itself”

In this photo illustration the Twitter logo seen displayed on a smartphone with Elon Musk's official Twitter profile.  (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

In this photo illustration the Twitter logo seen displayed on a smartphone with Elon Musk’s official Twitter profile. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Alter brought in Jason Goldman, who was on the founding team of Twitter before joining the Obama administration, and said, “[F]The discourse has become an obsession for the mostly white male members of the tech elite “who would rather go back to what things were” – “before a rapidly diversifying workforce changed. the culture of many of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies. “

Goldman believes that taking a less authoritarian approach to content moderation “is an inherently anti-speech stance, because you’re going to drive away a set of users who would use your product but no longer feel safe.”

Alter claimed that Musk views freedom of speech differently because he is part of the engineering culture: “Tech titans often have a different understanding of speech than the rest of the world because most have been trained as engineers, not as writers or readers, and a lack of education in the humanities might make them less sensitive to the social and political nuances of discourse.”

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