Elon Musk: Big Tech Is Now ‘De Facto Arbiter of Free Speech’

January 12, 2021 Updated: January 12, 2021

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, indicated on Monday that Big Tech is now the “de facto arbiter of free speech,” referring to their recent move to ban President Donald Trump.

“A lot of people are going to be super unhappy with West Coast high tech as the de facto arbiter of free speech,” Musk wrote on Twitter, replying to a satirical article titled “Evil Fascist Dictator Censored And Voted Out Of Office.”

The article was posted by Babylon Bee, a website known for its satirical articles.

“West Coast high tech has to make the distinction between banning hate speech and banning speech It hates,” wrote one Twitter user.

“This is an important distinction,” Musk replied.

“A Dictator can not be censored. A Dictator is the one doing the censoring…” commented another Twitter user.

Musk’s comments came after Big Tech moved last week to ban Trump and his supporters, citing “risk of further incitement of violence.”

Twitter permanently suspended Trump’s account on Jan. 8. Meanwhile, Apple and Google removed Parler, a popular social media app seen as an alternative to Twitter, from their respective App stores. Amazon joined in the effort to take down Parler by rescinding web hosting services.

Parler was criticized by those tech companies for allowing “dangerous and harmful” content.

A day before Twitter’s permanent suspension of Trump’s account, Michelle Obama publicly called on Big Tech to permanently ban Trump.

“Now is the time for Silicon Valley companies to stop enabling this monstrous behavior—and go even further than they already have by permanently banning this man from their platforms and putting in place policies to prevent their technology from being used by the nation’s leaders to fuel insurrection,” she said in a statement.

The move by Big Tech is highly controversial. Supporters say they’re private companies and have the right to do so. Opponents argue that dictators who violently suppress their people such as Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani can still use Twitter, but Trump can not.

World leaders denounced the censorship, with some calling it an abuse of power and a threat to political freedom.

Signal, Telegram, Gab, and other messaging services or social media companies gained a lot of new users following the ban on Trump.

On Jan. 7, Musk wrote “use Signal” on Twitter, following an article reporting that WhatsApp mandates its users to share data with Facebook, the parent company that owns WhatsApp. Signal is an encrypted messaging service and app.

Musk also disclosed that he donated to Signal a year ago and “will donate more.”

Musk became the richest person in the world in January, surpassing Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Signal’s share price soared dramatically on Monday. The Epoch Times regrets the error.