Elon vs. the Regulators

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A $43 billion sale of Twitter to Elon Musk looks more and more like a done deal. Depending on who you ask, Musk will either solve all free speech problems or turn the social media platform into an unusable hellscape of objectionable content. Of course, nobody really knows what he’ll do and to what effect, but it is certain his efforts are preferable to the proposed government regulatory solutions.

Whatever changes Musk makes will be necessarily superior to government regulation because they’ll happen on only one platform among many from which users have to choose. If his new policies make Twitter better and its users happier, other platforms can emulate it. If he makes decisions that make things worse, at least the consequences are confined to Twitter. Government regulations for content moderation, on the other hand, subject far more social media users to negative outcomes because they cover all of the biggest platforms. Better to have numerous laboratories trying different solutions to today’s content moderation challenges than a one-size-fits-all government approach.

Another advantage to the private response approach is its flexibility. It’s reasonable that those in the social media industry have a better of idea of what will hurt or help platforms than do politicians, but software engineers, tech entrepreneurs, and board members make mistakes too. The advantage they have is not needing to wade through the political process to amend their work. Elon Musk reversing or refining his new policies at Twitter can happen very quickly compared to Congress revisiting and fixing a bad law. That slow government grind is by design and a very good thing, but it also wasn’t built to regulate and correct a fast-paced tech sector.

Thankfully, that’s what markets are for.