Elon Musk’s newly appointed X (formerly Twitter), CEO Linda Yaccarino, set off a firestorm Thursday when she told potential advertisers there would be a censorship system in place.
Yaccarino, praising her “autonomy”, said that Musk will stifle “lawful, but awful, speech.” She referred to this strategy as “freedom, not reach.” Yaccarino was not exactly welcomed by those who were subjected to the censorship tactics under X’s previous regime.
X CEO Linda Yaccarino: “Lawful but awful” content will be hidden.
— Ben Swann (@BenSwann_) August 10, 2023
X CEO Linda Yaccarino: “we’ve introduced a new policy called… ‘freedom of speech, not reach’… if you’re going to post something that is lawful but it’s awful you get labelled… you get deamplified.”
X is now officially and explicitly a censorship platform.
— Paul Mitchell (@PaulMitchell_AB) August 10, 2023
Yaccarino: It’s staggering, they remove it, and X is committed to encouraging healthy online behavior. I can now confidently say that 99.9 percent of all impressions posted are healthy.
Reporter – What is healthy for you? Are conspiracy theories and porn healthy?
Yaccarino: It goes back to what I said about freedom of speech and not reaching. If it is legal but awful, you will find it difficult to accept it.
Reporter: How many millions of Kanye West fans are there? He’s back, but he is allowed to continue.
Yaccarino, you know, Kanye who isn’t on the platform but plans to join will be operating within the very clear policies that we’ve established. We’re also clear that anyone who watches or listens on Spaces has access to it. We have a team of extraordinary people who oversee, are hands-on with keyboards, and monitor all day, every day, to ensure that 99.9 percent of impressions stay at that number.
Free expression is only possible if someone with whom you disagree says something that you do not agree with. It’s important to have a healthy dialogue and debate, but at its core, free expression will only survive if you can’t tolerate it.
There are certainly some things to be concerned with within Yaccarino’s comments, but can we just pause and awe at the reporter still not thinking it’s good enough? Even with the new X CEO basically saying they are going to censor “awful” content in a way to promote a “healthy” discourse, the reporter is still incensed at the idea that “conspiracy theories” and Kanye West could be allowed on the platform. What an indictment of the press.
There will always be limits to the content that can be shared on the platform.
It’s all about how you define “awful”. If X simply demonetizes and throttles porn, and makes calls for genocide that’s understandable, and won’t have any impact on daily political discussions. Things could get out of hand if X starts to censor or demonetize content based on certain topics deemed inappropriate, such as climate change, transgenderism, and other things.
This is the greatest threat to freedom of speech on the Internet today. Most people will not object to advertisers throttling violent calls. Otherwise, X may go bankrupt. However, this is a dangerous slope and Yaccarino should tie herself to a branch at the top.