Harvard Prof. Calls Musk’s Twitter ‘Fundamentally Intolerable’

  • Data privacy expert Shoshana Zuboff told the FT that Elon Musk’s Twitter is a threat to democracy.
  • The previous Harvard Business School professor calls Musk’s Twitter takeover “fundamentally intolerable.” 
  • Twitter, and more recently Meta, have allowed Trump to return to their platforms, reversing bans.

Shoshana Zuboff, a professor emerita at Harvard Business school, said that Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter may pose a threat to democracy and society at large.

“Our political stability, our ability to know what’s true and what false, our health and to a point our sanity, is challenged each day depending on which decisions Mr Musk decides to take,” the information privacy expert told the Financial Times.

In reality, Zuboff, the writer of the 2019 book “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism,” told the FT that the Musk takeover is “fundamentally intolerable” and that she is horrified by how tech billionaires could potentially exert control over the the spread of knowledge.

Twitter didn’t immediately responded to Insider’s request for comment.

Zuboff remarks comes after Twitter and Meta — which owns Facebook and Instagram — have decided to reactivate Donald Trump’s social media accounts after he was banned for his potential to incite further violence following the January 6 Capitol riot in 2021. 

Since Musk — who identifies as a “free-speech absolutist” — took over Twitter in late October of 2022, critics have expressed concerns over how his leadership may embolden right-wing viewpoints, enable the spread of disinformation, and allow hate speech to flourish on the platform.   

A few of these concerns are already becoming a reality.

Since Musk became CEO of Twitter, he has reportedly suspended the Twitter accounts of several popular left-wing activists — in a single reported case personally ordering the suspension of Chad Loder — while reactivating the accounts of white nationalists’ akin to Nick Fuentes.

Musk has claimed that hate speech impressions have decreased since he bought the corporate. Nevertheless, The Latest York Times reported that racist, homophobic, and anti-semitic slurs have increased on the platform after Musk’s takeover. And Musk, himself, continues to tweet conspiracy theories, akin to one related to the assault of Nancy Pelosi’s husband that he later deleted.

“I feel he’s intentionally empowering right-wing extremists,” J.M. Berger, a researcher who studies extremism, previously told Insider. 

But Zuboff thinks the risks of the Musk takeover and the company control of knowledge by big tech are even larger — and will lead to unintended consequences.

“These spaces cannot exist solely under corporate control,” Zuboff said. “We’re 20 years into the digital era but we have now never, as democracies, taken stock of the meaning of those technologies.”

Read Zuboff’s full interview with the Financial Times here.

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