Snowden has a great idea for Twitter content moderation

The famed whistleblower would make a great advisor for Elon Musk.

There’s a new top dog (er, bird?) over at Twitter and it seems change is afoot (a-wing? Sorry, I’ll stop).

Billionaire Elon Musk’s (forced) purchase of the social media platform was recently completed and the eagle landed at the nest on Wednesday. (I really am done now).

His arrival was greeted with hand-wringing and defiance by many.

The meltdowns over the new era weren’t just coming from inside Twitter either.

Some of the histrionics at least make a little sense. Elon reportedly told investors he wants to turn the company’s finances around and will fire over 75% of the workforce to do so. And by all indications, he means business. The CEO, CFO, and the head of legal policy, trust and safety were all kicked out within two days time.

This reduction in employees will mean numerous things for the company, but most importantly, it means they won’t have as many staff members to carry out content moderation on the website—and it’s that factor, along with Elon’s history of support for free speech, that really has many on the Left up in arms.

The content moderation debate has been swirling for over two years time now. The Left wants social media companies to censor more people, especially those who post “disinformation,” which they define as any information that contradicts their positions. The Right feels it has been the target of censorship and unfavorable algorithms set by social media companies that are predominantly staffed by progressives in Silicon Valley, as well as by the Biden Administration.

They aren’t altogether wrong, the current administration absolutely pressured social media companies to censor information on COVID that pushed back on directives from the government (directives that have now been proven to be the actual misinformation, for the record).

The First Amendment, ample legal precedent, and Section 230 all correctly hold that private businesses have the right to censor anyone they want, or to kick them off their premises. Free speech after all means you not only have the right to say what you want free from government persecution or pressure, you also have the freedom to not host or promote speech you disagree with. A whole lot of people forget that last part.

So while the content moderation decisions of social media companies may anger both Republicans and Democrats for very different reasons, neither has any constitutional or ethical authority to do much about it.

That being said, when the government puts its thumb on the scale and pressures social media companies to moderate content in a certain way, that is an actual violation of free speech—both of the companies’ and of the individuals’ using them. (The bad guy here is still the government though, guys, not the private business that is also being threatened by the government).

While the current administration certainly has its hands dirty here, Republicans aren’t innocent either. In retaliation to this censorship, instead of going after the government for its violations of free speech, Republicans in places like Texas and Florida have passed bills that would force the platforms to moderate as they wish them to. Still a free speech violation, folks. And two wrongs certainly don’t make a right here.

So with Elon’s takeover of Twitter, and with his professed support for the free exchange of ideas, many are left wondering what’s going to happen to the platform’s content moderation standards. Clearly many on the Left believe Twitter will become a cesspool with rampant racism, conspiracy theories, and Donald Trump left to run amok all over the place. They also are apparently afraid of having to actually debate and defend their ideas versus just shutting down those of their opponents. And many on the Right are hoping their ideas will finally get the chance to flourish.

But how will the company actually approach the moderation question? Elon has already given some indication of next steps:

And, other good ideas have been floated.

But perhaps the best proposal came from BASEDPolitics’ hero and privacy icon, Edward Snowden.

He’s brilliant. And he’s right. Content moderation could easily be handed off to the individual if these platforms simply integrated the right tools. Per usual, the options are not a limited to “corporate gods must decide for us who is permitted to speak,” “my timeline will be filled with racism and torture videos,” or “the government must come shut down dissent.”

Elon looks to be a positive development for Twitter as a whole, it’s too bad he can’t make Snowden his top advisor.

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Hannah Cox
Hannah Cox
Hannah Cox is a libertarian-conservative writer and co-founder of BASEDPolitics. She's also the host of the BASEDPolitics podcast and an experienced political activist.