On March 25th Elon Musk wrote “Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy. What should be done?” He was quote-tweeting himself from a couple of days earlier, where he had polled followers, stating “Free speech is essential to a functioning democracy” and asking “Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to this principle?” Of over two million voters, 70.4 percent answered “No.” In answer to his later “What should be done,” a lively debate proceeded both in the replies and in opinion pieces across the popular media.
One such opinion piece appears here, recently. Quillette, Angel Eduardo disagreed with Musk’s characterization of Twitter. In “Twitter is Not the Town Square,” Eduardo declared that “No matter what we think, want, or feel, Twitter is not, has never been, and likely can never be a public square.” His argument was that because Twitter is a private company, it “can have whatever rules it likes—and it can apply them with whatever level of consistency it likes.” A social media company is a business, he says, and businesses don’t come to have obligations simply because of how we use them or what we’ve decided they’re for.