Elon Musk plans to launch his own social network to defend freedom of speech

Elon Musk’s hyperactivity has hit again. In a Twitter release, of which he has the secret, the head of Tesla and SpaceX mentioned the possibility of launching his own social network to defend freedom of speech.

Freedom of expression is necessary for a well-functioning democracy. Do you think Twitter strictly respects this principle? asked the billionaire in a tweet, accompanied by a survey in which more than two million of his followerswhich more than 70% answered in the negative.

After that an internet user offered him to create his own platform with an algorithm open source and the priority given to respect for freedom of expression, Musk replied that he “ think seriously about it “.

Elon Musk, destroyer of censorship?

To further blur the line between joke and reality, he also supported the idea of ​​another network user suggesting that dogecoin could be part of how this new platform works. This cryptocurrency with a dog as an emblem, created as a joke, has become very fashionable despite the doubts of the financial community. Elon Musk has repeatedly had fun supporting her on social networks. In May 2021, he made the dogecoin jump with a Sibylline tweet: “ how much is the dog in the window worth? “, a reference to a popular song about a dog (” dog “in English).

It is also not the first time that the entrepreneur who in 2011 confided in being ” quite libertarian ” to New Yorker, takes a public stand against censorship, and in particular that perpetrated by Twitter. In 2021, following Donald Trump’s banishment from the social network following his supporters’ attack on the Capitol, the billionaire had questioned the legitimacy of ” west coast tech elite (i.e. Silicon Valley) to be the judge of truth. In early March, he announced (still on Twitter) that his constellation Starlink had received pressure to block certain Russian sources of information and that he would refuse to do so unless forced to do so, in the name of free speech.

In February, he filed a lawsuit in the courts, accusing the U.S. authorities of taking him to court to criticize the government for violating the First Amendment, the guarantor of US freedom of expression. This complaint follows several investigations opened by the SEC, the policeman in the US stock market, who accuses Elon Musk of manipulating Tesla’s stock prices through his tweets, of which he is the founder. In November last year, for example, Tesla shares fell 5% after its boss offered its followers to sell 10% of its shares to pay more tax.

An already saturated market

If Elon Musk really intends to realize his project and finds time to devote himself to it between Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and The Boring Company, the task that awaits him is difficult. Many alternative social networks have been launched in the United States, mostly motivated by perceived excessive censorship from Twitter and Facebook. This is especially true of Gab, an Austin-based service, Parler, Gettr (launched by Jason Miller, a former spokesman for Donald Trump) or Truth Social, a platform launched by the former president himself last month.

But most are struggling to get started. Gab, for example, has about 4 million users, including 100,000 active users, far from the 200 million daily active users, known as revenue generators, on Twitter.

There are several reasons to explain these difficulties. To get started, such platforms must have a network effect, ie. users will only be tempted to register and participate if a significant number of their relatives do the same. But platforms like Facebook and Twitter, despite limited and occasional user leaks in times of scandal, take up all the space, leaving little room for alternative services to evolve.

Consequently, these platforms, which for the most part defend freedom of expression, tend to attract marginal or extremist users who have been banned from Twitter or Facebook for their behavior or ideas. A reality that scares many users away and complicates the ability of their platforms to attract investors.

Finally, they also tend to bring together more politically homogeneous individuals (Gab, for example, is very popular with American Republicans). However, one of the attractions of platforms like Twitter is to be exposed to different views. Without the lure of verbal sparring and other quarrels with opposing ideologies, many of these platforms turn out to be somewhat boring compared to the heavyweights of social media.