Boiling Elon Musk — Jumping Out Of The Pot Of Platform Law?
My take on the deeper issues for democracy of Musk’s on-again/off-again bid for Twitter, Boiling Elon Musk — Jumping Out Of The Pot Of Platform Law?, has been published on Techdirt.
The boiling frog syndrome suggests that if a frog jumps into a pot of boiling water, it immediately jumps out — but if a frog jumps into a slowly heating pot, it senses no danger and gets cooked. Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook has been gradually coming to a boil of dysfunction for a decade — some are horrified, but many fail to see any serious problem. Now Elon Musk has jumped into a Twitter that he may quickly bring to a boil. Many expect either him — or hordes of non-extremist Twitter users — to jump out.
The frog syndrome may not be true of frogs, and Musk may not bring Twitter to an immediate boil, but the deeper problem that could boil us all is “platform law:” Social media, notably Twitter, have become powerful platforms that are bringing our new virtual “public square” to a raging boil. Harmful and polarizing disinformation and hate speech are threatening democracy here, and around the world.
The apparent problem is censorship versus free speech (whatever those may mean) — but the deeper problem is who sets the rules for what can be said, to what audience? Now we are facing a regime of platform law, where these private platforms have nearly unlimited power to set and enforce rules for censoring who can say what…
The article goes on to suggest ways to take the pot off the burner.