#BlackTwitter Reacts to Elon Musk’s Purchase of Twitter

Musk’s purchase of the platform has raised questions and speculation among users, specifically within the #BlackTwitter community

When Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced on Monday that he had successfully acquired Twitter for roughly $44 billion, promising that he would make the social media platform an arena for “free speech,” it raised a number of questions and speculation among users, specifically from #BlackTwitter.

For those who aren’t familiar with #BlackTwitter, it is a virtual community composed of millions of users who have used the platform to call attention to issues affecting Black people and, in turn, can spark real-world change. The community is responsible for giving us various hashtags that have turned into movements such as #BlackLivesMatter, #ICantBreathe, #OscarsSoWhite, among others, the Los Angeles Times reports. And if you’re wondering where some of the most entertaining memes and GIFs on the web come from, you can thank #BlackTwitter as well.

So when news hit that Musk—whose Tesla is currently facing a lawsuit for allegedly silencing thousands of Black employees who complained about racism—was taking over the platform, many users questioned whether their voices would also be squelched and if it could be the end of #BlackTwitter as we know it.

One user tweeted: “The man treats his melanin employees bad. Imagine what he’ll do to #BlackTwitter, fam.”

Another person wrote, “Damn I’m really gonna miss #BlackTwitter cause something tells me Elon finna ruin this app for us in particular.”

One user questioned what Musk’s vision to encourage free speech—and potentially welcome people back to the platform who were kicked off because of their hateful speech—could mean for Black people. “#blacktwitter So if Elon frees up the nword on Twitter yall staying?,” they wrote. “Because a year or 2 ago I remember nword was flying around like nobody’s business.”

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) issued a statement following Musk’s announcement.

“Mr. Musk: free speech is wonderful, hate speech is unacceptable. Disinformation, misinformation and hate speech have NO PLACE on Twitter,” the statement begins.

The NAACP then makes it clear that it would not welcome Donald Trump back to the platform, which permanently banned him following the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol:

“Do not allow 45 to return to the platform. Do not allow Twitter to become a petri dish for hate speech, or falsehoods that subvert our democracy. Protecting our democracy is of utmost importance, especially as the midterm elections approach. Mr. Musk: lives are at risk, and so is American democracy.”

Activist Shaun King, who briefly disappeared from the platform, criticized Musk’s purchase, saying, “At its root, Elon Musk wanting to purchase Twitter is not about left vs right. It’s about white power,” the New York Post reports.

“The man was raised in Apartheid by a white nationalist. He’s upset that Twitter won’t allow white nationalists to target/harass people. That’s his definition of free speech,” King added. “So for me, this isn’t about left vs right. Not at all. It’s about how the richest man in the world, a son of Apartheid, raised by a white nationalist, wants to be sure his speech, and that of other white men, isn’t censored.”

After a number of conservative figures celebrated him potentially leaving the platform—including Donald Trump Jr. who tweeted “That alone is worth $44 billion”—King responded, “You wish, motherfucker”

Some users announced that they plan to leave the platform for good, with one tweeting: “Um… #BlackTwitter we need to schedule a meeting ASAP! Where we meeting up when we leave Twitter?”

Another person said, “It was nice getting to know you all. Especially everyone on #BlackTwitter. Now a white South African man owns it. Bye Y’all. #RIPTwitter”

Meanwhile some users encouraged those #BlackTwitter supporters to create their own platform.

“Black twitter, time to leave the cesspool of racism @Twitter will become once @elonmusk takes over,” one person wrote. “Watch this space. We need to think about a black owned space seeing that @tiktok_us supports racists and white supremacists while suppressing black voices. #BlackTwitter #ElonMusk.”

Meredith D. Clark, a Northeastern University associate professor who studies race and media, and is writing a book about #BlackTwitter, told the Times that although we “will definitely see more people move off in larger waves,” there will “still be a remnant left.”

But as far as creating a new platform similar to what has already been established on #BlackTwitter, Clark thinks it’s unlikely.

“I don’t think that you’re going see the same sort of replication of a Twitter-like climate or #BlackTwitter on another platform. I don’t think you’ll ever get that lightning in a bottle back,” she told the Times. “But I do think that you will see Black people doing what we have always done. And that is bend communication and other technologies to our needs and our will. And find ways to thrive in those various areas of the internet.”

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