Opinion: It’s time to dump Twitter – and Elon Musk

Calling for the arrest of Fauci – an imperfect but serious and dedicated public servant – syncs with Musk unleashing a torrent of Covid-19 misinformation on Twitter. — AP

There’s no longer any doubt: It’s time for anyone who’s not a QAnon believer or MAGA hat-wearing adherent of the far right to stop doing anything that boosts Elon Musk’s profit and power. If you’re on Twitter, leave. If you’re looking to buy an electric vehicle, don’t get a Tesla.

That may seem extreme, but a growing number of people and institutions have already left Twitter, from celebrities like Shonda Rhimes, Whoopi Goldberg and Elton John to institutions like the University of California, Santa Cruz and the Boston University School of Public Health.

The final straw for Boston University seems to have been a Musk tweet in December that both insulted transgender people and called for the prosecution of federal infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci. The public health school’s dean rightly called the tweet “demeaning and potentially dangerous.”

Calling for the arrest of Fauci – an imperfect but serious and dedicated public servant – syncs with Musk unleashing a torrent of Covid-19 misinformation on Twitter. Musk, who infamously predicted in March 2020 that the United States would have “close to zero new cases” by the end of that April, ended the site’s rules against Covid-19 misinformation in late November, unleashing a massive spike in tweets with misleading medical claims and conspiracy theories.

At least as worrisome as Musk’s Covid-19 disinformation campaign is his increasingly overt embrace of the most dangerous fringes of the far right, from neo-Nazis to QAnon conspiracy theorists. The members of those fringes have read the signals and enthusiastically embraced Twitter’s new boss.

As Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik observed a few weeks ago, Musk “has openly and approvingly engaged with some of the most extremist far-right figures on the Internet, including overt advocates for misogyny and white supremacy. He has explicitly bought into the right-wing Republican attack on ‘wokeness,’ a fabricated complaint that is the GOP’s way of demonising diversity and inclusiveness.”

So what do you do if you don’t want to fund Musk’s far-right craziness? Leave Twitter, for one. While the vast majority of Twitter users don’t pay for it (except Twitter Blue subscribers paying US$8/RM35 per month for theoretically enhanced services), all users help the service sell ads – by creating content and generating user and engagement numbers that Musk can pitch to advertisers. Many Twitter refugees have embraced Mastodon, a social network that offers similar functionality but with a decentralised structure – so a single billionaire can never be its boss – and, in the view of many, a less abusive environment.

And if you want an electric vehicle (which you should, they’re great), don’t buy a Tesla. The EV company, Musk’s main source of wealth, was once the only game in town if you wanted an EV with decent range. That’s no longer the case. Really impressive EVs are available now from an array of carmakers – Ford, Chevy, Hyundai and many more – with more new models on their way.

It’s not too late to make your 2023 New Year’s resolution to just say no to Elon Musk. – Progressive Perspectives/Tribune News Service

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