Twitter Removes Restrictions on Russian and Chinese State Media Accounts

Elon Musk’s Push for Free Speech

Elon Musk has once again made news for his push for free and open speech on social media platform, Twitter. This time, it involves the removal of restrictions on Russian and Chinese state media accounts. Twitter had previously implemented these restrictions at the beginning of the Ukraine invasion, including reduced circulation of content by removing it from recommendations, as well as downranking it in algorithm-defined timelines and more. However, Musk insisted that people have the right to decide for themselves what information they believe to be true.

Restrictions on Chinese and Russian Messaging Disappear

As researchers have found, the previously implemented controls on Russian and Chinese messaging have now disappeared. This comes as Musk’s other business, Tesla, announced the development of a new component factory in Shanghai, raising questions on how Musk will handle potential conflicts and appease leadership in both regions. Previously, CCP-affiliated groups have been found to have run large-scale influence operations via tweet, leaving many to wonder how these actions will be moderated.

Musk’s Plan for Moderation and Limiting Influence

Musk’s grand plan for moderation and limiting the influence of these operations is to push for maximal take-up of Twitter Blue, which he believes will kill off bot armies, as these programs be unable to afford the subscription cost. In addition to this, Community Notes would do the rest of the heavy lifting, relying on volunteer moderators who are also Twitter users to allocate fact-check markers to help others navigate misinformation pushes.

Musk’s Large Stand-Off with Traditional Media Outlets

Musk has repeatedly criticized traditional media outlets, labeling them as being inaccurate, opportunistic, and worse. Yet, at the same time, Musk has seen fit to restrict the reach of perceived Twitter competitors, of people sharing information about him that he doesn’t like, and critics of Tesla. This blinkered arrogance could pose risks within Twitter 2.0 and could see decades of work in combating foreign influence operations negated by reliance on flimsy, crowd-sourced security, which lessens the burden on Twitter itself.

Dangers of relying on Flimsy, Crowd-Sourced Security

Relying on volunteer moderators is risky, while allowing propaganda from known state-affiliated media to remain on the app is a significant risk. Add to this the rise of generative AI, and increasingly real-looking simulations and imaginings, and the situation becomes very dangerous. Musk believes that the government is lying, the media are liars, and the only source of truth is what he says. This point of view could spell disaster for Twitter, as it now enables more government propaganda, making the platform one source that people can trust. However, this might not bode well for Twitter advertisers, who continue to reduce their spending on the app.

In conclusion, Musk’s outspoken attitude towards Twitter’s management is making people wonder about the future of the social media giant. Will it continue to enable free speech, or will it become a platform for government propaganda? Only time will tell.