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A New York Times columnist broke with his fellow liberals distraught over Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter.
In a Wednesday string of tweets, columnist and Vox co-founder Ezra Klein argued that Musk’s takeover wouldn’t actually change the platform much, despite protests from left-wing users claiming the opposite, and said that it would “be a good thing” for the “cultural hold” Twitter has on certain industries and institutions to be weakened under his leadership.
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“Musk’s tweeting today is making me more confident of the argument I make here,” Klein wrote, referencing tweets from Musk but not specifying any particular ones.
“I don’t think he’ll change the platform that much, at least not soon. But I think having the owner of the platform tweet like he does will change the feel of it dramatically,” he added, including a link to his Wednesday Times column discussing what he sees as the flaws of Twitter and how society engages with it.
He then tweeted it was “weird” that everyone on Twitter was “providing free labor” for the site, but emphasized that free labor was now going to benefit to the richest man in the world. He added that Musk would be “making clear his contempt” for “a lot” of those people’s views, implying that would be a reason for users to abandon the platform.
“How does a viral tweet or a flourishing following feel if it’s to the greater glory and profits and influence of Elon? Maybe great if you love him. Pretty unsettling if you don’t,” Klein wrote.
“I don’t think Twitter collapses under a Musk regime. But I think its contradictions become unbearable to many, in a way that weakens the cultural hold it has on key industries and institutions, and that will be a good thing!” he added.
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Klein argued that Twitter was more of a “gamified discourse posing as a public square,” rather than a public square itself, and that it did not have the “best interests” of people at heart.
“The way to ‘fix Twitter’ is for people to see it for what it is, and treat it as that,” he wrote.
Klein stated that for too long Twitter has driven “elite thinking,” and that its content felt like “some vox populi,” or the majority’s opinion.
“Soon it’ll be Musk’s game, and he’ll never let you forget it, and he will wield its powers constantly. It’s a very different vibe,” he added, hoping Twitter’s influence will wane.
“Anyway — that’s my optimistic case. Twitter is a fine place for s–tposting and slacking off, and if Musk can get everyone to see it that way, he’ll have done the world a favor,” Klein wrote.
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Klein’s reaction to Musk’s purchase ran in stark contrast to the meltdown by other liberal figures, especially in the media, who proceeded to spread fear about what the purchase could mean.
One journalist fretted that a Musk-owned Twitter could lead to “the destruction of our planet,” while others compared Musk to an extremist and Nazi.