Elon’s Twitter Bid is Bad News for Democracy

Zack Breslin
16 min readMay 10, 2022
Image from Twitter

The world’s richest man has flashed his cash and decided that if he cannot buy universal adulation on Twitter, he will simply buy Twitter itself. And while it may take as much as six months before the $44 billion acquisition is completed, there has already been plenty of speculation about the implications of the dramatic takeover. How Elon Musk decides to run Twitter could have serious consequences for democratic society at large. After all, Twitter is much more than just a social media platform. For years, it has played an important role in politics across the globe and has become a significant way for public representatives to communicate with their electorates. Twitter allows politicians to easily broadcast their policies and personalities to voters en masse, with many even using the platform as a means to debate with citizens. Its importance for political communication is enhanced by the fact that having a Twitter account is essential to journalists and political commentators whose job of mediating between politicians and the masses now relies heavily on Twitter.

Twitter’s utility as a mass communication tool has meant that it is also a useful resource for protest, with multiple social movements relying on the platform to mobilize ordinary people and spread radical ideas. Without Twitter it is perhaps difficult to imagine how movements such as the Arab Spring, Black Lives Matter, and the Gezi Park movement in Istanbul (to name but three), could have sprung up so rapidly. For the past decade, virtually all of the major protest movements across the globe have used Twitter to mobilize people, communicate messages and organize protests. In short, Twitter often plays an important role in democratic processes right across the world, whether this be in regard to mass communication, campaigning, political education, or protest movements. Twitter, whether we like it or not, plays an important role in contemporary democracy.

Perhaps most importantly regarding its function within democracy, Twitter serves as a platform in which citizens can express their beliefs and engage in debate with each other (granted, much of the debate is highly toxic and polarized). Twitter thus serves as a public forum, a fact that Elon Musk himself recognized when describing Twitter as “the digital town square where matters vital to the future of