Elon Musk captured Twitter. An ardent supporter of freedom of speech takes up the short news platform. USA expert Claudia Brühwiler explains the political implications of this acquisition.
The political scientist is Claudia Bruhwiller Lecturer in American Studies At the University of St. Gallen.
SRF News: Twitter is a platform that also affects opinion formation. Elon Musk has mentioned that the rules on Twitter will be relaxed – you can say or write again. What does this mean for American politics?
Claudia Brühwiler: It’s not clear yet. This does not mean that he is in favor of complete freedom of speech. He said he was particularly opposed to banning someone from life on stage. He prefers short-term suspensions and dismissals instead. And he wants to control the content, to control the content, to be more transparent, without removing everything you find objectionable.
The right-wing television station Fox News is already celebrating under the title Free Bird. So is the capture of Musk Twitter good news for Republicans?
The question is how limited the conservatives really are. Half of the Republicans active on Twitter think Twitter restricts their freedom of expression.
Perceived censorship seems to be stronger than it really is.
But New York University studies have denied it, especially as Republican opinion leaders have repeatedly been caught in the crosshairs of criticism and in that sense had to accept censorship. Perceived censorship seems to be stronger than it really is.
Former US President Donald Trump was banned from Twitter after the Capitol attack and thus lost his most important mouthpiece. Trump has refused to return to Twitter. He is on his own site Truth Social. How do you rate it?
As always with Trump, you never know where you stand. His conversion to Twitter has not been particularly successful. Trump’s range is correspondingly small. He had no chance with the Truth Social he got through Twitter: Driving Public Discourse. Many experts see this as a real political force on Twitter. It’s not like you make decisions on Twitter. But Twitter affects comment creators and media conversations.
How important is Twitter to generate ideas in American politics?
Twitter is said to be much higher than other social media. Those in any position in American politics should be active on Twitter. We also see many political observers and journalists. However, only 13 percent of the content shared on Twitter is actually political. And this political content is especially edited and shared by the active layer.
Categorizing Twitter as a purely political medium would go a long way.
Categorizing Twitter as a purely political medium would go a long way. But it is essential to advance the political dialogue in it. Twitter discussions continue in media reporting, which is important for opinion formation.
Will Elon Musk gain political power with the Twitter acquisition?
The question is whether he likes it. Elon Musk is a businessman. He says his main concern is freedom of speech. But he should always be seen as a businessman who sees the challenge on Twitter. Twitter has not been particularly profitable in recent years. It will motivate him to explore more potential.
Vera Derakish conducted the conversation.
Democratic freedom of speech, authoritarian system
Some important communication channels are controlled by some men. Elon Musk controls Twitter. Another example is Mark Zuckerberg, who controls the Facebook group. Musk maintains freedom of speech, but SRF digital editor Guido Berger believes it requires democratic legitimacy. A community must acknowledge what it can say and where its limitations are.
“By taking Twitter publicly and bringing it under the control of one individual, we lose the ability to direct the course of the company from the outside,” Berger said. On the one hand there is the democratic principle of freedom of speech. On the other hand, the company is very arbitrarily organized. “It seems like a direct contradiction to me.”
Nevertheless, about 300 million people will tweet and talk about what is really going on on stage. “Musk can’t say exactly what everyone wants to tweet. If he takes serious turns to do this, people can leave the stage. In that sense, Elon Musk’s room for maneuver is limited, despite the money and total control.”
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