Elon Musk snaps up Twitter: Torontonians react to a corporate takeover in the name of free speech

Musk paid a fortune to buy Twitter. So do the people of Toronto's Yonge-Dundas square think he'll lead as advertised?

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Elon Musk is best-known as the creative genius behind Tesla and Space X. he’s also the richest man on the planet. And he’s now got a new company in his growing portfolio: Twitter. The off-the-lot price tag: US$44-billion.

But it’s safe to say Musk’s motivation for acquiring Twitter had far less to do with making money and a whole lot more to do with restoring Twitter to its former glory – namely, a platform for free speech rather. In recent years, Twitter has increasingly become a censorious hub. What does it say that former U.S. President Donald Trump is banned from Twitter yet terrorists advocating harm are somehow tolerated?

Indeed, going back more than a decade, Twitter was marketed as the free speech wild west. Come one, come all, said the Twitter founders in the company’s infancy. (Oh, and please provide us with free content!)

But once Twitter achieved a critical mass, it became far choosier when it came to who’s who in the Twitter zoo. Which is to say, those with right-of-centre viewpoints were increasingly suspended or banned outright from the social media platform. Little wonder that so many people on the left are reacting with outrage and anguish over Musk’s acquisition of the company. After all, the left may be gung-ho about diversity, but they are not giddy about a diversity of opinions. Classical liberalism is dead, replaced by the censorious adherents of cancel culture and “wokeism”.

But what a pleasant surprise we encountered at Yonge-Dundas Square the other day. We asked people if they thought the acquisition of Twitter by Musk was good or bad. Every respondent gave the deal a thumbs up (although a few, understandably, expressed the hope that Elon Musk will come as advertised; that he will not become a censor himself in the months ahead.)

Bottom line: clearly, freedom of speech is not free. Indeed, Musk paid a fortune for this social media platform. But should he live up to his promises in the months and years ahead (and we think he will) we can’t wait to start Tweeting without having to worry about being placed in some sort of ideological penalty box for committing Orwellian “thoughtcrimes.”

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