‘New Twitter’ Will Push Mainstream Media to Be More Truthful, Musk Says

‘New Twitter’ Will Push Mainstream Media to Be More Truthful, Musk Says
SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk laughs as he arrives on the red carpet for the Axel Springer Awards ceremony, in Berlin, Germany, on Dec. 1, 2020. (Hannibal Hanschke/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Twitter CEO Elon Musk says the “new” version of the social media platform under his leadership will put pressure on mainstream media to become more truthful and “stop toeing the line.” 

The comment was made during a live Q&A session on Dec. 3 while discussing the release of the “Twitter Files,” which exposed the company’s role under its former management in suppressing reports about Hunter Biden’s laptop computer weeks ahead of the 2020 presidential election.  

Musk told the audience that under his ownership, Twitter’s goal “should be toward truth.” 

“If the new Twitter is successful in that, then the result would be that people will turn to Twitter to understand what is true, what is real, what narrative matters.”

If successful, the platform will gain a lot of readership and attention, Musk said, noting that it would “put a lot of competitor pressure on mainstream media and other social media companies to also be more truthful because otherwise, they’ll simply keep losing people to Twitter.”

Amid reports that advertisers are dropping Twitter to protest Musk’s control of the company, the billionaire asserted that Twitter will “become successful and gain share from other social media and it will force other social media to stop toeing the line.”

“That’s where the competition can be a good thing.” 

With mainstream media, the narrative is “controlled by a handful of editors” who decide what the narrative is. With Twitter, people are able to get the “unfiltered narrative” as well as to suggest and emphasize the narrative themselves, Musk stated.

“The Washington Journal, The New York Times, and Washington Post and a few others decide what the narrative is,“ he said. ”Even if what they say is completely truthful, the people don’t really get a choice in what topics are covered, whereas, in Twitter, they do.

“And it could be something really important to the world and the big news organizations don’t cover it for a reason.” 

While the platform won’t be perfect and there could be things that people disagree about, on balance, people will “gravitate toward Twitter,” Musk predicted.

“What happens is when there’s a competition for what the truth [is] and one company steps out of line, it does allow the truth to flourish.”

Media ‘Complicit’ in Election Interference

According to internal documents from the “Twitter Files,” in order to suppress the Hunter Biden report, Twitter executives marked the information as “unsafe,” limiting its spread and even blocking it from being directly shared via the platform’s direct message function.

One email dated Oct. 24, 2020, appears to show a Twitter executive sharing a list of five accounts allegedly identified by people from the campaign of then-Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

“By 2020, requests from connected actors to delete tweets were routine. One executive would write to another: ‘More to review from the Biden team.’ The reply would come back: ‘Handled.’”

During the Q&A session, Musk noted that if the social media giant was “doing one team’s bidding before an election” and shutting down dissenting voices, “that is the very definition of election interference.”  

“Frankly, Twitter was acting like an arm of the Democratic National Committee; it was absurd,” he said. 

Asked about mainstream media’s downplaying of the “Twitter Files” release, Musk asserted that they are “trying to turn this into a nothing-burger because they’re complicit in deceiving the American public.”

With the release of information about Twitter’s censorship and suppression activities in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election, Twitter “is the one company that’s no longer colluding and is no longer just going with this NPC group think,” Musk said.

The term NPC is derived from non-player-characters in video games, an internet meme that describes people who follow the mainstream narrative rather than think for themselves and make their own decisions.

“[I] should probably increase my security or something,” he jokingly added.

The point of releasing the “Twitter Files” is transparency, the billionaire noted.

“Why should the people believe in Twitter in the future if Twitter does not come clean about the past? That’s what it comes down to,” he noted. 

“It’s not that people will necessarily agree with everything that Twitter has done in the past or in the future but at least they’ll know that it’s occurring and there’s no shady stuff that is happening that they’re unaware of.

“You can then appropriately calibrate your interpretation of what you learn on Twitter as opposed to thinking Twitter is pretending to be unbiased and even-handed,” he said.

 Caden Pearson contributed to this article.

Nina Nguyen is a reporter based in Sydney. She covers Australian news with a focus on social, cultural, and identity issues. She is fluent in Vietnamese. Contact her at [email protected].
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