Tesla CEO Elon Musk polled Twitter on Saturday, asking whether a new social media platform should be created to challenge Twitter and sparking speculation that the billionaire might be the one to do so.
In a series of tweets on Friday, the Space X founder asked if the time has come for a new platform to replace Twitter, and whether users thought the company ‘adhered to free speech principles.’
He said that, because Twitter serves as ‘the de factor public town square,’ a failure to promote free speech on the app would undermine democracy.
In a reply to his own thread on Saturday, which sparked speculation, Musk wrote: ‘Is a new platform needed?’
‘Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy,’ he had written the day before, on Friday. ‘Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?’
Just over 70 percent of over 2 million respondents said ‘no’ to Musk’s Twitter poll.
In a follow-up Tweet, the tech mogul wrote that ‘the consequences of this poll will be important,’ and he had urged respondents to ‘please vote carefully.’
Elon Musk (pictured right) has long been a vocal advocate for free speech, calling himself a ‘free speech absolutist.’ He launched speculation that he would launch a new social media app after asking his followers whether Twitter ‘adhered to free speech principles’
He also asked his 80 million followers on Friday whether Twitter’s algorithm should be open-source, which would provide information about how the micro-blogging app chooses what to show to users in their feeds.
Three-fourths of respondents said it should.
Twitter founder Jack Dorsey was quick to respond to this jab, Tweeting that ‘the choice of which algorithm to use (or not) should be open to everyone.’
Musk responded directly to a follower who said that Twitter doesn’t fairly present both sides of the political debate.
‘If you’re a leftist making death threats against conservatives. or organizing riots, Twitter respects your freedom of speech,’ wrote @Cernovich. ‘Twitter also respects the freedom of speech for media hoaxes like when every major outlet framed an innocent Covington high school kid.’
‘Doesn’t sound very balanced,’ Musk responded.
He also responded to a user suggesting that Musk use a dogecoin as the new platform’s logo, indicating that he liked the idea.
Previously, the CEO of India-based social media platform Koo, Aprameya Radhakrishnan, invited Musk to join the platform, attempting to entice Tesla founder with a description of its decentralized approach.
Musk has long been a vocal advocate for free speech, calling himself a ‘free speech absolutist.’ Earlier this month, he tweeted that Starlink was approached to block Russian news sources, but that the internet provider would not do so.
He has repeatedly called out mainstream media companies for muzzling users with certain viewpoints and presenting polarizing information.
Musk’s poll elicited a mixed response. While most respondents were in agreement that Twitter did not do enough to protect free speech, some users pointed out that, as a private company, Twitter has the right to manage content as it sees fit.
‘Stop dude,’ wrote @JashSmash. ‘Twitter isn’t the government. The First Amendment only applies to the government.’
Podcast host Eric Weinstein wrote that Musk was touching on ‘an analytic problem of a particular kind’ that has been prevented in every previous attempt from working by several challenges rather than ‘lack of desire.’
‘We need to invent something that fills this space that hasn’t existed… yet,’ Weinstein wrote.
Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, responded that we don’t need a new platform – new protocols are needed.
‘To hell with platforms! We need a protocol so lots of companies can make clients for it without becoming our new overlord,’ he tweeted.