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Elon Musk

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After The Wall Street Journal reported that billionaire Elon Musk proposed to Twitter that he buy the company at his original offer of roughly $44 billion — following months of his attempts to back out of the deal, resulting in a recent lawsuit — many right-wing media personalities celebrated the news and expressed hope that banned users would be allowed back on the social media platform.

In a statement released in response to the reported acquisition, Media Matters President Angelo Carusone warned that under Musk’s ownership, Twitter “will become a supercharged engine of radicalization if he follows through with even a fraction of what he has promised.” Musk had “made it clear that he would roll back Twitter’s community standards and safety guidelines, reinstate Donald Trump along with scores of other accounts suspended for violence and abuse, and open the floodgates of disinformation,” he said. NBC online disinformation reporter Ben Collins offered similar warnings in a short Twitter thread, stating that “it could actually affect midterms” because Musk “can elevate any idea or person he wants through recommendations and UX [user experience] choices and there will be no oversight on this as a private company.”

When the purchase deal was first announced in late April, there was excitement among right-wing figures banned from Twitter for violating its terms of service and on right-leaning Facebook pages. Anti-trans figures celebrated by expressing increasing bigotry on the platform in violation of its rules against hateful conduct. Fox News hosts were also ecstatic, with some advising Musk to fire everyone at Twitter while pushing the fake narrative that the platform censors conservatives. (According to reporting from the Los Angeles Times, Musk has often opposed transparency at Tesla and quashed his employees’ freedom of speech.)

Now, right-wing media and extremists are once again celebrating Musk for moving forward with his offer to buy Twitter. They’re especially expressing excitement about the likelihood that Musk would return disgraced former President Donald Trump to the platform, from which he has been banned since inciting violence surrounding the January 6 attempt to overthrow the government. He continues to spread inciting rhetoric, recently against law enforcement.

Some right-wing media figures expressed glee about Musk’s Twitter deal

  • Former Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano said that Musk’s Twitter acquisition would be a “great gift to the American people.”
  • Fox Nation host Tammy Bruce expressed relief that Musk’s deal to buy Twitter had been rekindled: “As long as he gets it that’s all that matters.”
  • Fox host Dan Bongino speculated that Musk would “own the libs at Twitter,” and he bid his audience to “enjoy every second.”
  • On his Telegram channel, Stop the Steal founder Ali Alexander suggested he might be back on Twitter if the Musk deal goes through and said that “firing bad Twitter staff” and allowing every bad actor who has been banned from the platform back on “makes PEACE more probable.”
  • The right-wing political organization Project Veritas — which specializes in "sting" operations aimed at smearing its perceived political opponents — used Musk’s takeover as an opportunity to solicit emails from whistleblowers to “restore trust in Twitter.”
  • On the Great Awakening message board, which is associated with the QAnon community conspiracy theory, users agreed that Musk had played Twitter “like a f**kin fiddle.” As one top commenter ominously wrote: “They're so screwed without the commie censorship crew.”
  • Users on the pro-Trump message board The Donald suggested that Twitter is a “MASSIVE democrat bot farm” and that Democrats “won’t be happy” about losing their “psyop, programming machine.”

Other right-wing figures speculated that Musk’s Twitter acquisition will open the floodgates for “free speech”

  • Fox Business reporter Lauren Simonetti speculated that the Musk deal could be positive for Twitter users if he “makes these changes that are more supportive of free speech.”
  • Newsmax host Greg Kelly suggested that Musk might bring Trump back on the platform and said that “we should be able to say whatever the hell it is we want to say.”
  • Newsmax anchor Bob Sellers commented that the deal “could have a political effect” and Musk might “allow things other people would not have” on Twitter.
  • Conservative media watchdog Newsbusters published an article titled “Free Speech Wins, Libs Have Epic Meltdown Over Musk Deal.” On Twitter, the organization’s founder, Brent Bozzell, said that he hoped the deal would go through “for the sake of free speech.”
  • Frequent Fox guest Glenn Greenwald said that the “hysteria” over Musk’s Twitter acquisition derived from liberals' fear that “Musk will stop censoring their adversaries.”
  • On his radio show, Outkick.com founder and frequent Fox News guest Clay Travis said the deal was a big win for “those of us who want to be able to share our actual opinions on social media.” Meanwhile, Outkick.com published an article praising the deal as “a tremendous win for freedom of speech.”
  • In a Twitter thread, right-wing provocateur Christopher Rufo singled out Media Matters and others for reporting on disinformation and prescribed that Musk “should protect independent voices against the false, manipulative, and destructive game of these ‘disinformation reporters’” upon seizing the company’s reins.
  • On Facebook, right-wing advocacy group PragerU attributed a quote to Musk bashing “wokeness” as “a shield to be mean and cruel, armored in false virtue.” The post racked up over 100,000 interactions.
  • On Truth Social, right-wing filmmaker and conspiracy theorist Dinesh D’Souza said that Democrats are “terrified by the prospect that under Elon musk, Twitter might again become a genuine free speech platform.” On Twitter, D’Souza speculated that his own following on the platform might double “to around 5 million.”
  • Former One America News Network host Liz Wheeler teased that she might voice opinions about elections, COVID-19, or trans people as a “first tweet on FREE SPEECH Twitter” once Musk takes over.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

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As Meta considers whether to allow former President Donald Trump back on its platforms, his increasingly extreme behavior on his social media platform Truth Social — pushing misinformation and amplifying conspiracy theories — demonstrates the potential real-world harm that such a move would pose.

Meta suspended Trump from posting on its platforms for at least two years after the January 6 insurrection, publicly citing his use of Facebook “to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.” Less than four months from now, Meta will decide whether “the risk to public safety has receded” to allow Trump back on Facebook and Instagram — which Meta global affairs president Nick Clegg recently suggested was likely. According to Clegg, “accuracy or sentiment about” Trump’s content would not be a “driving factor” in the decision to end his suspension.

While suspended from Meta’s platforms and other social media, Trump launched Truth Social in February to get back online and avoid moderation. The platform has become a home for dangerous and hateful content, including Trump’s own 1,524 posts (through October 2) and an additional 673 posts that he has shared. In fact, many of these posts are centered around pushing election misinformation, attacking and inciting violence against his political foes, and promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Trump’s activity on Truth Social mirrors his behavior on Facebook before he was suspended and his extreme rhetoric even since the violence on January 6. Media Matters previously found that roughly a quarter of Trump’s Facebook posts between January 1, 2020, and when he was suspended on January 6, 2021, contained COVID-19 misinformation, election lies, or extreme rhetoric about his critics. Trump also maintained a presence on Facebook since being suspended, with Facebook ads from his joint fundraising committee pushing election misinformation and Facebook videos of Trump’s misinformation-filled rallies that have earned millions of views.

Trump continues to push and amplify election misinformation, other false claims, and the QAnon conspiracy theory on Truth Social.

Pushing election misinformation

Trump’s denial of the results of the 2020 election, and his prolific social media posts on the topic, contributed to the January 6 riot at the capitol, and subsequently to his suspension from Meta's platforms. He has continued to spread the same incendiary election lies on Truth Social.

In posts with such misinformation, Trump claimed that Democrats’ “biggest LIE, by far, is the results of the Presidential Election,” and that the “Election was Rigged and Stolen.” He also promoted Dinesh D’Souza’s Big Lie documentary 2000 Mules. Media Matters analyzed Trump’s posts on Truth Social and found at least 58 mentions of the word “rigged” in at least 55 posts, and at least 255 mentions of the word “election” in at least 195 posts.

Pushing misinformation about the FBI searching Mar-a-Lago

A subset of Trump’s recent posts on Truth Social focused on the FBI’s search for government documents at his Florida property. Once again, Trump’s rhetoric led to his supporters threatening violence online, and eventually to real-world harm when one man attempted to attack an FBI office in Cincinnati, Ohio.

In one of Trump's posts about Mar-a-Lago being searched, he attacked the judge who authorized the warrant, claiming he held “animosity and hatred of your favorite president,” even after the judge was subjected to right-wing attacks. In other posts, Trump claimed that all documents in his possession were declassified and that the FBI took privileged material, and he shared a statement that claimed that the search was “not necessary or appropriate” and an attempt to “stop me, and the Republican Party, once more.” Trump repeatedly referred to the search as a “raid.” In fact, there were at least 116 mentions of the word “raid” in at least 92 of his posts. There were also at least 77 mentions of the term “Mar-a-Lago” in at least 67 posts.

Amplifying the QAnon conspiracy theory

Trump has repeatedly amplified and pandered to the QAnon community on Truth Social. Based on Media Matters' analysis, Trump has amplified at least 61 QAnon accounts more than 130 times on Truth Social. On September 27 and 28, Trump amplified at least 11 different QAnon accounts a total of 22 times.


Trump amplified QAnon at least 315 times on Twitter before being suspended, and has since more openly embraced the conspiracy movement — continuing to amplify such accounts and using a QAnon-related song during campaign events. The QAnon conspiracy theory has been tied to various acts of real world violence and is considered a potential domestic terror threat by the FBI. Meta's policies against militarized social movements include a ban on accounts promoting QAnon, but Clegg has decided to highlight Facebook’s likelihood of restoring Trump’s account at a time when Trump has increasingly promoted the conspiracy theory.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.