Since Twitter accepted Elon Musk’s bid to buy the platform, right-wing media have been rehashing debunked rhetoric that the Twitter algorithm is deliberately censoring and banning their accounts.
On April 25, Twitter announced that it had accepted the controversial Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s offer of $44.1 billion for the platform. The decision has delighted the right-wing Twitter sphere, with right-wing media personalities calling Musk a “legend” for protecting free speech and saying he “terrifies” the Democrats because he might show they control the narrative on Twitter. Musk also describes himself as a “free speech absolutist,” appealing to conservatives who often claim they are being censored on major platforms, including Twitter.
Right-wing media personalities see Musk’s takeover of Twitter as a way to remedy the past “censorship” of conservative social media accounts and expose the deliberate bias of Twitter’s algorithm against them. However, these claims are baseless and without merit. Twitter is a potent breeding ground for right-wing toxicity and disinformation, ranging from anti-transgender attacks to QAnon conspiracy theories. According to New York University researchers Paul M. Barrett and J. Grant Sims:
The claim of anti-conservative animus is itself a form of disinformation: a falsehood with no reliable evidence to support it. No trustworthy large-scale studies have determined that conservative content is being removed for ideological reasons or that searches are being manipulated to favor liberal interests.
Despite lacking evidence, conservatives have heralded Musk’s takeover as an opportunity for Twitter to finally stop this supposed censorship and for them to access additional proof that the algorithms are biased against them.
- On the April 25 edition of Tucker Carlson’s program on Fox News, Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy praised Musk’s takeover, suggesting it will “give people a level playing field.” He added, “Anyone who's paid an ounce of attention knows that each platform specifically leans certain ways. And you know what the craziest thing is, Instagram or Facebook or Zuckerberg, I feel like they sensor 10x what Twitter does. They all do it and they all lean certain ways.
- Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon praised Musk’s takeover on the April 26 edition of America’s Newsroom, saying, “The way that things have been running up to this point, Twitter’s rigged the system that you can only promote the popular narrative. If you try to make jokes about it you are accused of hate speech or misinformation or some, you know, nefarious euphemism for what's really just censorship, ultimately. What they call content moderation is censorship of views and opinions that they don't like. And so Musk wants to open that up and say, you know, people are allowed to have differences of opinion.”
- Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren told Fox & Friends First viewers that Musk will reveal that Democrats have controlled social media platforms “to make sure that they control the agenda and that narrative,” adding, “So someone like Elon Musk terrifies them. He is not a conservative. He’s not a Republican. He’s someone that truly does believe in free speech, and that should be celebrated by all. But I think the Democrats are worried if they aren't having such a control over Big Tech and social media, maybe the truth will get out. And if the truth gets out, maybe -- just maybe -- people will change the way that they vote in November and in elections to come. And that's why they are shaking in their boots.”
- Newsmax guest and Clouthub CEO Jeff Brain told National Report, “Anything that's moving towards transparency like algorithms, [I] think is a great move. People want to restore trust and integrity in social media. And it sounds like Elon Musk is going to bring that for Twitter.”
- On Fox News’ The Faulkner Focus, right-wing radio host Jason Rantz responded to a claim made by the Media Research Center that Big Tech censored criticism of President Joe Biden, saying, “We’re going to get a look at that algorithm that was keeping a lot of our content on the back burner. I think that's what Elon Musk is going to end up uncovering.”
- On Fox Business’ Varney and Company, reporter Lauren Simonetti said, “The political elite, the left in Silicon Valley, they will not be able to control the algorithms anymore. And you have a lot of people -- I haven't tweeted in months, but you have a lot of people like Tucker Carlson, for instance, but others saying we're now tweeting again or look, I gained all of these followers overnight, just like that.”
- “Intellectual dark web” podcaster and mathematician Eric Weinstein tweeted: “I’m excited to see what happens next. Here’s to the future But one request for @elonmusk can you use Twitter Logs to show us how our communications were manipulated? Who was shaddowbanned or targeted by bots? How algorithms limited our reach? Why we were throttled? Etc.”
- Fox News contributor Nicole Saphier tweeted: “I wonder by what factor my Twitter following will increase once Elon Musk removes the censorship algorithms that cause followers to inadvertently be dropped.”
- Right-wing podcaster Liz Wheeler tweeted: “I can’t WAIT to see Twitter’s algorithm when @elonmusk makes it open source. We’re gonna be shocked at badly it stifles conservatives AND artificially promoted leftists.”
- Right-wing radio host Clay Travis tweeted: “The left wing blue check brigade members losing their minds on here over Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter are doing this because he’s going to bring true free speech to this platform. They’ve been playing with a rigged algorithm and know their gig is about to be up. Glorious.”
- Former Trump adviser and right-wing radio host Sebastian Gorka tweeted: “First thing @elonmusk should do: Release the Algorithms.”
- Right-wing radio host and former California gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder tweeted a meme of young people hugging and crying, writing, “Staffers in @Twitter’s Algorithm Department react to @elonmusk’s purchase of the company.”