Michael D Higgins accuses Musk of ‘incredible and dangerous narcissism’Vish Gainon May 6, 2022 at 08:12 Silicon RepublicSilicon Republic

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President Michael D Higgins of Ireland has lashed out against billionaire Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter as a “manifestation of an incredible and dangerous narcissism”.

Speaking at the inaugural conference of Dublin City University (DCU) Centre for Climate and Society, Higgins asked rhetorically if it is a “great success that a multibillionaire would be now deciding what is appropriate for people to exchange by way of discourse”.

“I think it can hardly be described as anything other than a manifestation of an incredible and dangerous narcissism,” he added, to applause from the audience. Higgins did not mention Musk by name.

WATCH #DCUClimate22: President Michael D Higgins @PresidentIRL delivers the keynote address for the DCU Centre for Climate & Society’s inaugural conference ‘Climate Action: Ireland’s Role in a Changing World’ @DCUClimate @DeloitteIreland https://t.co/9fZ6oBozCx

— Dublin City University (@DCU) May 5, 2022

Twitter announced that it was accepting Musk’s $44bn offer to buy the social media platform on 25 April, giving in to a relentless effort to acquire the company by the Tesla and SpaceX founder.

Musk, who is the world’s richest person, has been keen on making some big changes on the platform, including new features, enhanced monetisation, defeating spam bots, authenticating all humans, and perhaps most controversially, significantly relax moderation.

Musk and free speech

Prof Jane Suiter, director of the DCU Institute for Future Media, Democracy and Society, told SiliconRepublic.com last week that Musk has an “evangelist view” of the Internet as an “open space and democratising force” where free speech is sacrosanct.

“But what researchers and most other people have discovered over the last decade is that that promise fell through and that large parts of the internet are full of content that can be detrimental to people’s mental health,” said Suiter.

Musk tweeted in March asking his more than 80m followers (now 91m) if Twitter adheres to the policy that “free speech is essential to a functioning democracy”.

He then quote-tweeted his own tweet to say that because Twitter serves as the “de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy”, asking his followers what should be done about this.

“With Musk’s free speech absolutism, it would allow people who want to make up anything to say whatever they want without presumably Twitter intervening,” added Suiter.

On Wednesday, official filings revealed that Musk had secured a total of $7.1bn in commitments from 18 investors for his planned $44bn takeover of Twitter, including major firms such as Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz and Vy Capital.

Qatar, which has a terrible track record for freedom of speech for its citizens, also extended $375m to the free speech advocate for his acquisition plans.

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