Musk’s X will and needs to die

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons | Elon Musk (center) meeting with former Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro (left).

Eliyahu Gasson | Opinions Editor

X, the company formerly known as Twitter, needs to die. As it stands, the platform is a cesspool of unregulated political extremists actively working to undo any social or political progress society has achieved in the last 100-or-so years. The site has also become the outlet of choice for foreign oligarchs to spread their propaganda in the United States.

Since purchasing the site in 2022, Elon Musk has transformed X from a semi-respectable microblogging platform to a punchline. From the infamous “let that sink in” video in which he carried a porcelain sink into Twitter’s office to the rebranding process which involved the installation to an obnoxiously bright “X” sign blasting white light into the adjacent apartment building.

Musk has posted his intentions for the platform online. He aims to turn what is ostensibly a microblogging and video sharing website into an app that does everything from restaurant reservations to online payments.

But Musk has undermined himself with his laissez-faire moderation. Along with firing more than half of Twitter’s staff upon his acquisition of the company, Musk reinstated numerous accounts previously banned for spreading hateful and destructive content.

Examples include Alex Jones, who spread false information about the Sandy Hook shooting resulting in mass harassment of parents and victims, Kanye West, who had posted multiple antisemitic statements including the infamous “going def con 3 on Jewish people” and Donald Trump, who incited a riot at the U.S. capitol on Jan. 6.

X account Libs of TikTok, run by Chia Raichik, is one instance of Musk’s libertine speech policies run amok in the real world.

Raichik’s account has been blamed by law enforcement in multiple cities for bomb threats made to schools, hospitals and businesses according to NBC News.

There is no hard evidence that Raichik called for the bomb threats nor is it entirely clear if the people who made the threats were directly inspired by Libs of TikTok. However, the timing of the threats heavily correlates to when Raichik features targets on her page.

NBC News said they have identified 33 incidents since 2020 in which people or institutions were singled out by Raichik. The threats targeted schools, libraries, hospitals, small businesses and elected officials in 16 states, Washington, D.C., and Ontario.

For its part, X has done nothing to limit Libs of TikTok’s reach or soften its impact. Rather, the company has given refuge to equally influential and malicious actors.

Tucker Carlson, former journalist and talk show host, was booted from Fox News last year for spreading lies about voting machines that got his employer in legal trouble. Carlson quickly relaunched his show on Twitter where he has been welcomed enthusiastically by Musk.

Carlson posted a video on X on Tuesday from Russia announcing his interview with Russian president Vladimir Putin, who ordered the invasion of Ukraine nearly two years ago.

Carlson is the first American media personality to be granted the privilege since before Russia’s invasion began, probably because he has a track record of supporting similar right wing autocrats like Brasil’s Jair Bolsonaro who had incited a riot in his country’s capital Brasilia and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán who has unabashedly transformed his country into an “illiberal state.”

The return and safe harboring of so many unfashionable and conspiratorial influencers combined with Musk’s own brand of right-wing politics has led to an exodus of prominent advertisers.

Ads for Walmart, Disney and Sony, among other prominent brands have disappeared. Notable advertisers continue to jump ship, not wanting to be seen financially supporting platforms which provide a soapbox for hate speech and misinformation.

Less advertising revenue forced X to shift to a subscription model. Since Musk’s acquisition, account verification, once used to indicate the validity of an account, has been turned into a pay-to-play game. Reputable sources are drowned out by any user with money to spend on an X Premium subscription.

X is now worth 55% less than when Musk bought it according to their own reports. Such a precipitous decline in value is indicative of the best case scenario, the death of X.