Twitter is undergoing a makeover, and no one in the celebrity world appears happy to see the platform shed a few pounds of dead weight or freshen up with a nip, tuck, and injections. Ironic. Several avid social media users have declared they are leaving for good and taking their millions of fans along with the timely exodus. Most are fleeing because they fear there might be hate speech and calls for violence and a reinstatement of conservative voices and opinions thanks to Elon Musk.
But like other moments of liberal distress, like when an election doesn’t go their way, is toodle-oo Twitter a tantrum that will be smoothed over in time? In the few days since Musk shed billions to, in his mind, save the platform from heavy censorship, the bandwagon began filling up with the woke folk. A dozen or so household names, like horror novelist Stephen King, and a host of other lesser-known celebs, like Alex Winter, said farewell to their Twitter sanctum for safer spaces.
Celebrity Ultimatums for Twitter Fall Short
Téa Leoni, the actress who plays in the television program Madame Secretary, tweeted to her 124,000 followers: “Hi everyone. I’m coming off Twitter today—let’s see where we are when the dust settles.” Not exactly the fire and brimstone that the woke like to preach. Mick Foley, a retired professional wrestler and actor, which is redundant, waffled on his commitment to leave in a huff: “I really do enjoy connecting with all of you on social media, but it can get overwhelming sometimes. I think I’ll be back on in a few weeks, but in the meantime, I will continue to post on Facebook and Instagram.”
Shonda Rhimes, producer of ultra-woke television shows Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19, was abrupt in announcing her departure and disdain for the head Musketeer, thumb-typing, “Not hanging around for whatever Elon has planned. Bye.” Rhimes has a following on the platform, just shy of two million people.
Sara Bareilles, a Grammy-winning singer/songwriter, signed off, leaving three million followers scrambling for other fan sites: “Welp. It’s been fun Twitter. I’m out. See you on the other platforms, peeps.”
So, besides the few who want to punish Elon Musk or attract media coverage for themselves, will an exodus amount to anything? Heck, take ten million users who might go along with celeb hysteria, and that barely makes a dent. Twitter has nearly 400 million users worldwide and is ranked as the 16th most popular social networking site around the globe.
Musk has claimed his sole purpose is to foster open dialogue instead of catering to left- or right-wing echo chambers. But it seems that those occupying the progressive and liberal canyons are afraid of what might happen if free speech is allowed an unfettered existence. Mia Farrow is worried that Trump will be allowed back on, tweeting last spring for sanity from Elon: “keep Twitter worthy of your previous achievements and of lawful people everywhere.” So far, the former president doesn’t care whether Musk opens the door and revokes the lifetime platform ban. As Liberty Nation’s Jeff Charles recently posited:
“It would not be a surprise if the White House sought to use executive power to threaten the company. The administration has already shown a willingness to use its bully pulpit to pressure Big Tech companies to censor viewpoints on the COVID-19 pandemic that were not Democrat-approved.”
Why can’t we just get along?
Is Twitter More Dangerous?
No one appreciates hateful rhetoric. It does nothing to further healthy dialogue and causes further dissension among the ranks. And perhaps the Hollywood types have lived in a pleasant bubble of love for far too long to grasp reality. But they also have a point: There shouldn’t be calls for violence or slurs based on race, creed, or color, and for the most part, the US protects the innocent from themselves and those who wish to do them harm. Yet there has been a change – a somewhat imperceptible, but still there, disturbance on the platform. And, of course, there is an organization that studies such interruptions and reports, the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI).
NCRI sounded the alarm after the Musk deal was final and found the use of the N-word on Twitter ballooned by almost 500% in 12 hours. But most of them were made by the same 300 or so accounts, and likely represent either attempts to make Musk look bad or merely simple ignorance rearing its ugly head to test the Twitter censors. The freedom to speak without suppression is the very foundation of what this country was founded upon – but it is a double-edged sword.
Some celebs – the very vocal and highly left-leaning Rob Reiner and George Takei, for example – are bucking the crowd and will stay to fight the possible tide of mean speak. And that is their right, granted to all Americans by a few smart guys who gathered at Independence Hall and hammered out, as Joe Biden calls it, the “thing.”
Josh Gad, the voice of Olaf in the Frozen empire, was possibly the most balanced celebrity weighing in on Musk’s acquisition. He played it cool: “Leaning toward staying, but if today is a sign of things to come, not sure what the point is. Freedom of speech is great. Hate speech intended to incite harm (with no consequences) ain’t what I signed up for.”
For those leaving, they have Facebook and Instagram and unicorns and glitter bombs. But will their time out last? Nah, they will all be back after they have made their point, as Twitter does soothe the ego of those who need constant attention.
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