The breathtaking cluelessness of Elon Musk

Musk appears so comfortable contradicting himself that it’s difficult to tell how much of what he says is deliberate prevarication and how much is just ignorance. Much as Trump was content to dismiss the advice of experienced colleagues when he was president, Elon Musk seems to have decided he has a better grasp on the vagaries of social media and content moderation than everyone who has run a platform before him. His statements on how he’ll run Twitter constantly betray a blindness to how complicated that will actually be, and a Trumpian assurance that he must know best.

Like Trump, Musk hasn’t let his own checkered record or lack of insight get in the way of casting himself as the figurehead for a cause — and because, like Trump, he commands an enormous and attentive audience, he’s been extremely successful. His willingness to overlook or disregard facts in the pursuit of his ambitions bears a sinister resemblance to Trump, as does his flair for repeating himself ad nauseam until people accept his statements as fact.

If we learned anything from Trump’s time in the spotlight, it was that he should never have been allowed it in the first place. Again and again, he highlighted design flaws in systems both state and private that should have better protected the public — whether by lying to his millions of followers on Twitter, or appointing judges to buffer his position in government. Elon Musk’s crusade in the name of “free speech” is already exploiting the same weaknesses. There’s no controlling for shameless, intransigent men, but there urgently need to be more dependable limits over their influence. Musk shouldn’t run Twitter like the Wild West, but as the law stands, he can.

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