For a conservative on Twitter, nothing is more entertaining than “Owning the Libs.” Jousting for a few ideological points on the Left’s home turf is definitely exhilarating.  Earth’s richest man took that concept to a new level by making an offer to own Twitter itself. 

Make Twitter A Republic (If We Can Keep It)

Op-Ed By: Matt Knoedler

For a conservative on Twitter, nothing is more entertaining than “Owning the Libs.” Jousting for a few ideological points on the Left’s home turf is definitely exhilarating.  Earth’s richest man took that concept to a new level by making an offer to own Twitter itself. 

Full disclosure: I love using Twitter despite it’s flaws, but I’m also firmly in the “build your own” camp. I founded a locally-oriented social network for conservatives, CaucusRoom.com. New social networks like mine target specific markets where we see unmet needs and untapped potential, but Twitter remains the de-facto global Town Square. 

I realize this sounds hyperbolic, but bear with me: Elon Musk’s proposal to take Twitter private is extraordinarily important for the future of the free world. However, the stewardship of such an important platform cannot be trusted in the hands of any individual person. Musk should decentralize and democratize the governance of the platform, rather than guide it himself. I did it with CaucusRoom, so I know it can be done

Every social network’s value proposition is different, and Twitter’s impact on breaking news is a market separator. Reporters and influencers view their Twitter feed as a news gathering-and-distributing tool. But so do advocacy groups, foreign adversaries, and any number of other players seeking to influence that news coverage. Power corrupts, and as Twitter’s power grew, the more people sought to corrupt it.

In 2016, the New York Times wrote an extraordinary article about “Hillary Clinton’s Outrage Machine,” an operation led by liberal henchman David Brock to use “troll farms” full of operatives with fake accounts on Twitter and Facebook to influence the presidential race. The professional trolls would amplify (or skew) news about Trump and Republicans designed to outrage moderates and liberals, while causing conservative influencers to distance themselves or stay silent. 

The playbook was not new, nor exclusively used by Democrats. But conservative trolls participate as visitors against a home team with friendly umpires. During the 2020 election Twitter let liberal influencers play fast and loose with “misinformation,” while they brought the hammer down on conservative spin machines, even censoring verifiable news stories that hurt Biden or helped Trump. Eventually, they found cause to censor the sitting President himself.

These policies have unintended consequences. A liberal should acknowledge that they will govern better if they can withstand public scrutiny of their views. On Twitter, liberal candidates and policies flourish unvetted, while the slightest innuendo against a conservative is scrutinized until the subject is ultimately censored. This is how bad policy evolves into disastrous policy— and is there any question that the country is awash with poorly-vetted policies right now?

It can get worse— much worse. As soon as Twitter suspended President Trump, illiberal leaders around the world called on the company to silence their opposition. Twitter’s suppression of debate over COVID policy emboldened those who supported draconian measures, but in retrospect, some of those measures may have been more damaging than the virus itself. 

It seemed like there was no way out of this vortex, until Elon Musk came along. My guess is that the Twitter board, Twitter’s vendors and employees would rather burn the company to the ground than hand it over to a self-proclaimed “free-speech absolutist.” They appreciate the company’s influence on the world’s political trajectory, but seem ignorant to the dangerous consequences of putting their biased thumb on the scales. 

I give extreme credit to Mr. Musk for making this move, for these reasons. I think Musk knows that anyone, including himself, is just as vulnerable to misusing Twitter’s intoxicating power. So in the off-chance Musk succeeds in this takeover, I’ve got two suggestions: 

  1. Write a Bill of Rights to protect the rights of users and for the company. Any changes to the Bill of Rights must be agreed upon by a supermajority of users or shareholders. 
  2. Establish a republican form of governance, where power is distributed, subdivided, and governors are accountable to those who are governed.

It’s not the best form of government, but it’s better than all the others. 

In the meantime, if you’d like to join a social network governed by an elected Council, check out the one I founded for conservatives to organize locally: CaucusRoom.com. Our constitution can be found at https://about.caucusroom.com/constitution

Matt Knoedler is a former Colorado State Legislator and political advisor. He is the CEO of CaucusRoom.com, an online community for conservatives to gather and engage locally. 

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