Elon calls the shots

This week Elon has managed to piss off both sides of the aisle, first ‘the right’ by his proposal to disable the Twitter block button, which led to a public spat with the 180 IQ James Woods [1], and then ‘the left’ by throttling traffic to websites he personally dislikes, such as Reuters and the NYTs, leading to a chorus of outrage by those very affected sites.

The biggest loser if the block button goes away is Nassim Taleb, who probably holds the Twitter record for blocking people, followed by maybe Cernovich, who is also known to be trigger-happy with the block button (and also Marc Andreessen). I guess this means Arab man won’t be able to block people for refuting his wrong claims about IQ or failing to be sufficiently scared of Covid.

Mr. Woods does have a point though, and this is an error by Musk, assuming he does not change his mind, which is always a possibility (business, unlike constitutional law, is much more provisional). The only way to stop trolls, spammers, and harassers is with the block feature. Muting someone means you cannot see their posts, but others still can, and they can still comment on your posts–totally useless. All other social media sites have a block feature–why should Twitter be different?

Elon is a smart guy, no doubt, but his IQ is probably not 180. You gotta know when you’re outmatched, as he clearly got ‘owned’ by the smarter Woods:

Elon is a serial blocker. And it’s hypocritical that he can or should be allowed to avail himself of the feature, but others cannot.

In Elon’s defense, the block button is also commonly used out of ideological disagreement or other differences of opinion, and maybe that is what Elon meant, because this is bad for engagement. Blocking someone out of disagreement, not harassment, means the platform becomes less like a social network and more like a personal soapbox. Although despite this, the block feature is more useful than not.

Whether it’s blocking or throttling, I don’t think it fully dawned on people the implications that Twitter is private and owned by one person alone. Elon can do whatever he wants, without any accountability. There is no higher power–be it the SEC, the courts, shareholders, board of directors, judges, or lawmakers to complain to. It’s his fiefdom now.

The only way he can be held accountable is if he breaks the law, gets sued by a major litigator and loses, somehow runs out of money and has to sell his controlling stake of Twitter, or knowingly hosts certain illegal content on Twitter and makes no reasonable effort to remove it. Nor does he have to comply with FBI or other agency requests for user info, which is why such agencies invest so heavily in hacking, to forcefully obtain what they cannot attain by asking nicely. There is a reason a lot of companies stay private when they can go public at a higher valuation, which is total control and no accountability to shareholders.

[1] Extrapolating SAT scores to IQ, his normed IQ is at least 150 given his near-perfect SAT score (1579) on the pre-1995 test, which is generally regarded as being harder and having a higher ceiling compared to subsequent revisions.