It really is a sad commentary on the state of the American economy when the world’s richest man is found whining about losing money due to his own incompetence, ignorance, ego, and greed. Yet that’s where we are now as Elon Musk discovers that the rest of the world isn’t as enamored of his “brilliance” as he is.
On Friday morning the new “Chief Twit” (as he calls himself) posted a tweet expressing his dismay at the loss of revenue at Twitter following his acquisition. And naturally, he blames it on unidentified “activists” who, in his festering paranoia, he is convinced are out to destroy him. Sounds a lot like his buddy, Donald Trump.
Many people assume that because Musk managed to accumulate an obscenely immense fortune, that he must be an exceptional businessman, rather than just lucky and/or skilled at exploitation. But Musk’s tweet revealed just how poorly he understands both business and the Constitution. He tweeted that…
“Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation and we did everything we could to appease the activists. Extremely messed up! They’re trying to destroy free speech in America.”
Let’s breakdown Musk’s meltdown. First of all, the “massive drop in revenue” is a pittance to a multibillionaire who way overpaid for the company he so badly wanted to control. But Musk is, nevertheless, howling at a loss of revenue that could have been easily predicted. He was, in fact, warned that his intention to impose his concept of “free speech absolutism” would result in an advertiser exodus. No advertiser wants their ads to be displayed in proximity to blatant hate speech and flagrant disinformation.
Despite the predictable results of his own foolish strategies, Musk is blaming “activist groups” for the decline in revenue. But what he is actually complaining about is that people other than himself are exercising their rights to free speech. Musk, like many right-wingers, thinks that free speech means that no one can disagree with whatever you say. And if anyone does disagree, and communicates their disagreement to others, they are insufficiently grateful for the crumbs that you scatter among them.
Musk also asserts that “nothing has changed with content moderation.” That’s technically true. However, hate mongering Twitter users anticipating the “free-for-all hellscape” that he has outlined for Twitter didn’t wait for any official starting gun to go off. The bile began spewing almost immediately upon the news that Musk closed the deal. As reported by ABC News…
“A new study from Montclair State University showed a dramatic increase in hate speech on Twitter immediately following Elon Musk’s acquisition of the social media platform. […] In similar research by the cyber research organization Network Contagion Research Institute, the use of the N-word racial epithet skyrocketed by over 500% on the website.”
Now Musk is surprised that the predictions of fleeing advertisers are coming true. Already some major advertisers have suspended their buys on Twitter. They include General Mills, Audi, General Motors, Pfizer, Ford, Mondelez (Oreos), and Volkswagen. Musk’s shock and anger over this illustrates his opposition to the free market. These companies have every right to protect their brands from the harm of being associated with the hate speech that Musk is encouraging.
So in that one short tweet, Musk has demonstrated his opposition to free markets, as well as the fact that it is he who is “trying to destroy free speech in America.” What’s more, his distress over the loss of some revenue is especially grotesque coming after he reportedly fired half of the employees at Twitter. Which he is doing in order to offset his own losses due to the preposterous overpayment he made to acquire the company.
Musk obviously has no sympathy whatsoever for the much more severe loss of revenue that the Twitter employees will suffer. But so long as he manages to restore a tiny fraction of the fortune he lost buying Twitter, the suffering of others is their own problem.
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