The Washington Post, a newspaper owned by billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, published an op-ed from former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao calling for regulations “to prevent rich people from controlling our channels of communication” — without a trace of irony.
Every major social media platform is already owned by billionaires, including the Saudi Arabian prince Al Waleed bin Talal, and this has been the case since the earliest years of those platforms.
It wasn’t until self-declared free speech absolutist Elon Musk became the largest shareholder in Twitter that the outcry from regime elites, of which Pao’s article is a part, started.
Pao is horrified by the prospect of Musk influencing Twitter, at once arguing that social media companies are “free to establish some limits” on speech (as Pao herself notoriously did as CEO of the previously free speech-friendly Reddit) while fretting that Musk will use his influence to relax those limits.
Pao argues that Musk’s influence would represent a “big step backward” from heroic Jack Dorsey achievements like removing “hate and harassment,” adding “labels for misleading content,” and “bann[ing] Donald Trump.”
Free speech, argues Pao, hurts “marginalized racial and ethnic groups” while empowering the privileged.
The Reddit CEO concludes that the government needs to pass regulations that “prevent rich people from controlling our channels of communication,” and allow CEOs to feel safer making changes to their platforms that their customers hate.
Such regulations, argues Pao, would “would give executives cover to do things they know should be done but which they are afraid to try, out of fear of political backlash or a revolt by some users.”
Pao is familiar with alienating a platform’s userbase. Her tenure at Reddit, which saw the platform rapidly undermine its founding commitments to free speech, was met with massive user backlash and boycotts. Now Pao wants CEOs to be able to foist the blame for unpopular decisions onto government regulations.
It was Pao’s warning against “rich people controlling channels of communication” that drew the attention of social media, because the former Reddit CEO chose to publish her opinions in the Washington Post — a channel of communication owned by a billionaire.
“This is an actual sentence published last week by the Washington Post, the newspaper owned by Jeff Bezos,” marveled journalist Glenn Greenwald.
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 14, 2022
How dumb do you have to be to believe that journalists – who work at Bloomberg and the Bezos-owned WPost or Comcast or CNN – are worried about billionaires controlling media ().
They’re only petrified that the *wrong* billionaire, one who may not censor for them, might reign.
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 15, 2022
“How dumb do you have to be to believe that journalists — who work at Bloomberg and the Bezos-owned WPost or Comcast or CNN — are worried about billionaires controlling media,” asked Greenwald later in the day.
“They’re only petrified that the *wrong* billionaire, one who may not censor for them, might reign.”
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election.
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