Those who expected Twitter polls to be a “scientific feature” on the social network will be sorely disappointed to find out that may not be the case; among them is the editorial board of the Washington Post.
There is, however, one thing that disappoints and upsets that board even more over on Twitter: Elon Musk. And his understanding of free speech, which he is now, to their seemingly great chagrin, free to exercise as the owner of the platform.
Apparently, while in a somewhat “doublethink” frame of mind, WaPo's Editorial Board is arguing that the efforts to bring (back) – and therefore protect – free speech on Twitter are in fact harming free expression.
Even Musk's message that the voice of people is tantamount to the voice of God (in Latin: “Vox Populi, Vox Dei”), particularly in a democracy (the very root of the word, “demos” – this time in Greek – is “people”) is dismissed as a “poetic expression of a sentiment.” A democratic sentiment – but apparently, that's irrelevant as it “does not reflect what Mr. Musk is doing with one of the world's most influential social media platforms.”
So thinks WaPo's editorial board.
Recalling that Musk asked Twitter users to decide whether there should be “general amnesty to suspended accounts” – if no law had been broken, and there was no “egregious” spam coming for them, the article notes that this “unscientific poll” returned a landslide – 71% – “yes” response.
This left WaPo entirely unimpressed, one has to assume, because the most “painful” of the outcomes of this vote has been the reinstatement of former President Trump's Twitter account.
The newspaper – entirely unscientifically – seeks to invalidate the poll stating that “many of those who engage regularly with his (Musk's) account are his die-hard supporters.” (Neither WaPo nor Twitter are scientific journals – but it was the former who set the bar that high for Musk's poll, so it's only fair to hold their opinions to the same “scientific or not” scrutiny).
Since the takeover, Musk has been taking many steps designed to financially steady the ship of Twitter's perennially poor business results, while the platform enjoys considerable clout among politicians, journalists, and the like.
WaPo sees staff layoffs that happened in this process as yet more proof of a threat to free speech on Twitter today.
“Slashing the number of staff devoted to policing content can end up harming civil liberties,” claim the paper's editors.