X Marks the Spot: Social Media’s Last Stand

  • December 19, 2023
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Ever since Elon Musk acquired Twitter, now X, the regime has been hellbent on harassing the company and Musk himself—with bad publicity, accusations of antisemitism, and advertiser boycotts. Musk struck back by threatening to sue the Anti-Defamation League, suing Media Matters for defamation, and famously telling fleeing advertisers to “Go F*ck Yourself.”

Musk’s X not only has represented a potential blow to the woke cartel but also to the globalist statists whom it so assiduously serves. X’s potential has been to weaken the Big Digital woke cartel that censors content, censures and bans users, and serves as a propaganda arm of totalitarian statists. I have argued that Musk’s X gambit would represent an important test case for the woke cartel because it pits supposedly “the world’s richest man” against the woke cartel members and the state that benefits from their allegiance and compliance. Musk’s X demonstrates just how much this cartel and the statists who control it can manage to infringe property rights by controlling what Musk can do with his own property.

Shortly after Musk moved to buy then-Twitter, several dozen countries and international governance bodies—including the US and EU—announced the ratification of the “Declaration for the Future of the Internet,” which, among other things, aims to “bolster resilience to disinformation and misinformation, and increase participation in democratic processes [sic].” Just two days after Musk announced that he was buying the company, the Biden administration announced the formation of a “Disinformation Governance Board,” which has since been scrapped, at least in name.

In October 2022, I noted that one of the major threats posed to Musk’s platform would come from the European Commission (EC), with its new Digital Services Act (DCA), signed into law on November 16, 2022, and put into effect in August 2023. But the EC began threatening Musk with control of his social media platform’s content from the moment he took over. After Musk posted, “the bird is freed,” EC chief Thierry Breton quote-posted: “In Europe, the bird will fly by our EU rules.” Breton no doubt referred to the EC’s DCA, which aims to ban “illegal and harmful content” across Europe.

And now, the EC is launching proceedings against X for alleged violations, including the “dissemination of illegal content in the context of Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel.” On Monday, December 18, 2023, Breton, the EC commissioner responsible for enforcing the DCA, posted a harrowing notice of the proceedings on X: “Today we open formal infringement proceedings against @X:/Suspected breach of obligations to counter #IllegalContent and #Disinformation/Suspected breach of #Transparency obligations/Suspected #DeceptiveDesign of user interface.” Unsurprisingly, X is the first social media company to face such scrutiny from the EC under its new law.

In fact, the DCA aims at universalizing content moderation by large-scale social media platforms and search engines, subjecting them to the EU’s stringent and anti-free-speech laws against “disinformation” and “hate speech,” which are not (yet) recognized legal categories in the United States. X is being compelled to abide by EU-enforced content moderation for its EU users—otherwise, it could be fined 6% of its global income or be banned from operating across the EU if it is found to have breached the law. Banning EU users would mean that Europeans would not have access to X—unless, that is, they use a VPN. But given that X will be forced to abide by EU content moderation, it’s very likely that X will simply be bound to apply the DCA’s rules to all content.

The censorship regime that in the US has acted behind closed doors and through secret backchannels—as revealed in the Twitter Files and Missouri vs. Biden—has now come out into the open with the EC’s policies and investigations. The shot across the bow fired by the EC represents the potential to ruin X entirely, either by forcing it to censor content it more than it had been before Musk bought the company, or by fining and starving it of European users.

Should X be taken down by EU and other statists, or speech severely curtailed on the platform, the digital town square promised by Musk will simply not exist. Users will be forced to self-censor, “violators” will be censored, and repeat “violators” will be banned. That means that the regime’s narratives will go largely unchallenged and counter- narratives, which are often true or simply represent differing perspectives, will be exiled and driven underground. X may be the last stand for free speech on social media.