Elon Musk advocates for citizen journalism, defends free speech on X

The tech mogul discusses platform's stance on censorship amid growing pressures.

Elon Musk advocates for citizen journalism, defends free speech on X
Ludovic Marin/ Pool Photo via AP
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Elon Musk, the owner of X (previously known as Twitter), urged the public to take up citizen journalism, emphasizing its potential to "change the world." He made his remarks following his livestreamed visit to Eagle Pass, Texas to see the migrant crisis for himself.

Musk has long been vocal about his support for uninhibited speech, previously stating, "Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy," and questioning Twitter's adherence to this principle before his acquisition of the platform.

Expanding on his advocacy, Musk posted Friday:

Please encourage more citizen journalism! You can do live video easily from your phone. More on-the-ground reporting from regular citizens will change the world.

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro drew parallels between Musk's sentiment and the vision of Andrew Breitbart from 2011. Breitbart had once critiqued mainstream media's bias, suggesting that the rise of citizen-led media would correct the inadequacies of traditional outlets. He had said, “If you are not going to correct yourself, we’re going to create a media in the wake of your incompetency.”

In a recent X Space conversation with Shapiro, Musk delved deeper into the topic of free speech. He highlighted the challenges of maintaining freedom of speech on global platforms, especially in regions with stricter regulations.

Musk posited that open dialogue, even with divisive opinions, is essential to counter misunderstandings and biases:

In the U.S. we are able to be much more free of speech; in some other parts of the world much less so, where we have the choice of either providing the X platform or it being shuttled or throttled.

And I do believe also generally, if there is someone harboring hate, and that hate is based on sort of incorrect assumptions or bad knowledge, the best way to combat that hate is to hear it and then say why it’s not true, as opposed to someone harboring secret-antisemitism or some other form of hatred, never hearing the counterpoints as to why what they believe is false.

Often I think it’s better that somebody says something and then gets dumped on, frankly, or is corrected.

Addressing potential governmental pressures on platforms like X, Shapiro inquired about Musk's strategies for resistance. Musk affirmed his commitment to resisting censorship, revealing that the most significant pressure in the U.S. comes from certain left-leaning activist groups. These groups, he noted, often advocate for their values under the banner of combating hate speech, which Musk believes intertwines political motivations.

In his words, “Our policy is to resist any attempts to get censorship to the maximum degree allowed by law.”

“In the U.S., by far the biggest pressure comes from essentially fairly far-Left activist groups and actors and coalitions. … What they’re trying to do there is impose extremely far-Left values on X and other platforms under the guise of hate speech, but it is, in fact, a matter of politics,” he added.

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