Elon Musk may be the victim of his own content moderation policies, as one of his tweets Friday was hit with a fact-check.
Musk claims that he has not yet implemented any new content moderation policies since he took over the company just over a week ago, but Twitter users have complained of seeing fact-checks where they wouldn’t normally expect them, including on the White House Twitter account, and of the massive increase in racial slurs and other distressing conduct.
On Friday morning, Musk tweeted out a complaint about advertisers pulling back from the site. He expressed frustration, blaming “activist groups,” and saying that no effort to “appease” them had worked.
However, a fact-check, in the form of “added context,” was quickly appended to his tweet, offering readers a list of news articles about the advertiser withdrawal, and providing information directly from those companies about why they are taking time out to reconsider their ad buys.
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.
The Twitterverse responded by linking viewers to articles on a variety of websites: the Wall Street Journal, MSN, and even the Daily Mail, all citing advertisers’ own explanations of their decisions to back off of Twitter for a while.
These reasons pretty much come down to the same thing: uncertainty about the direction of the platform, based on both the possibility that content moderation will shift to allow more trolling, disinformation, and bigotry; and the visible reality that the company is firing top executives.
Musk himself has indicated a leaning away from content moderation, as shown by his pinned tweet — a poll in which he asks whether advertisers should support “political correctness” (a term generally used to mean treating people with respect and decency) or “free speech.” His followers chose “free speech.”
He’s also given a hint as to the direction that can be expected on the site, when he himself posted a debunked wild conspiracy theory about the attack on Paul Pelosi, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
So far, the man who has, in his bio, retitled himself “Twitter Complaint Hotline Operator,” has not publicly expressed his feelings about being fact-checked on his own site, but he’s made it clear over the past week that he’s not happy with complaints and contradictions
Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.