A little perspective: Elon Musk has offered $44 billion to buy Twitter. In the 2019-2021 biennial budget, Washington state allocated $45 billion to pay for public schools and higher education.
That’s right, Musk, the world’s richest human, has so much money available to him that he can make a single purchase that equals in cost what this state planned to spend over two years to support every public school, every university and community college, every student, teacher, professor, administrator and janitor, as well as to provide books, band instruments, basketballs and everything else that goes into educating the coming generation.
And Musk acts as if buying Twitter was kind of an impulse purchase, sort of like going to the grocery store for eggs and lettuce and coming home with six dozen doughnuts.
Musk is an entrepreneurial genius, and, like other notable tech’ gazillionaires, he is a bit eccentric and mercurial. Musk owns Tesla, the world’s most highly valued automobile manufacturing company and SpaceX, America’s most successful maker of rockets to lift payloads and people off the planet. He has ambitions to create fleets of self-driving semi-trucks; drill deep, long high-speed train tunnels between cities; power developing world communities with his batteries; and colonize Mars. The guy does not really need a social media company. Yet, once he got an inkling, he could not resist.
He thinks he can run Twitter better than it has been run and, if past success is predictive, he probably can. But, apart from his business plan, there is a more pressing concern for us lesser mortals who live in the world that these brilliant billionaires have created for us.
Musk is said to be a free-speech absolutist. Assuming the deal for Twitter goes through, will he dispense with the minimal safeguards that have been put in place to prevent dangerous misinformation from being spread across social media by Twitter users? (And, very much to the point, will he let Donald Trump back onto Twitter after the disgraced president was tossed off for spreading outrageous lies about the 2020 presidential election?)
Social media has done much to undercut civil discourse, undermine democracy, enable fearmongering and empower extremists. Will Musk make it even worse by reopening the Twitter cesspool of swirling mendacity?
If so, when does the next rocket leave for Mars?
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