~ 5 minutes read
What happened: On Thursday, Elon Musk offered to buy all Twitter stock at $54.20 a share — or roughly $43 billion — and take the company private.
Context: Musk bought over 9% of Twitter on April 4.
The divide: Some celebrate Musk’s potential purchase as a victory for free speech, and others mourn it as a loss in the fight against misinformation.
Why we see it differently: We disagree about whether certain ideas should be moderated on social media because we ultimately disagree about what ideas should be considered legitimate, and which should be deemed dangerous.
Understanding why someone else might see this issue differently can help us have more productive conversations, and makes us much less likely to dehumanize those who disagree with us. That’s why we dug into the most retweeted tweets in the conversation to understand what positions resonate with people the most, and why.
Musk has spoken out against Twitter’s content moderation policies — he believes they do too much of it. So many assume that if he were to take control of the company, he would make content moderation more lax. But people disagree about what less content moderation would lead to.
To those who oppose Musk’s potential purchase, his changes would permit the spread of misinformation.
To those who support Musk’s potential purchase, his changes would promote free speech and limit censorship.
Some content moderation, like removing child pornography, is widely seen as a social good. But other content moderation, like removing information the platform perceives as false, is more divisive, because one man’s misinformation is another’s political reality.
So where should platforms draw the line between moderatable content and legitimate debate? Many agree that platforms are currently failing to find a balance, but disagree about what changes need to be made.
To some, too much misinformation already goes unmoderated.
When false information spreads, we start living in different realities with different sets of facts, and our democracy becomes weaker.
The spread of false information can hurt our ability to address important issues. If we allow it to run rampant, we will not be able to act when a crisis arises.
To others, too many legitimate beliefs are being censored.
When legitimate beliefs are censored, we close ourselves off to important debate and ideas, and our democracy becomes weaker.
Free debate means hearing ideas that challenge our own. If we refuse to consider new ideas, even if some ultimately turn out to be false, we lose out on important insights.
While most of the conversation about Musk’s potential purchase surrounded free speech, some people focused on the role of billionaires in today’s society.
One of the positions we described might stick out to you as obviously true (or at least more true than the others). The question remains: How can two people read the same information and come away with such different opinions about it
Our experiences, background, and existing worldview all affect how we interpret news events. Here’s an example:
With these differences in experience in mind, it’s easier to see why we see Elon Musk’s potential purchase of Twitter so differently even when we look at the same set of facts.