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What will happen to the US and Taiwan after Twitter was bought by Musk

Posted by on 2022/05/03. Filed under Breaking News,Headline News,International. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Elon Musk, who bought Twitter on April 25, has discussed the company’s political policies in advance. According to the New York Times, Musk has spoken of open algorithms, making “10 percent of the people on the far left and far right unhappy,” introducing a real-name system to defeat spam bots, and arguing that Twitter has de facto public square and therefore requires absolute freedom of expression protections. These arguments seem very positive. But what will Mush’s purchase of Twitter actually mean for the US and Taiwan?

First, in the United States, according to the ANES2020 pre-election survey conducted by the American political association, only about 40 percent of the American public used twitter to track political information. And if we look at twitter users’ views of former President Donald Trump, twitter users give Trump a much higher score of zero than non-Twitter users, while non-Twitter users give Trump a much higher score than twitter users. Twitter is a relatively liberal place to start. In contrast, there was little difference in opinion of Trump among Facebook users. Although there was also a high percentage of facebook users who opposed Trump, there was no significant correlation between the percentage of people who supported Trump and whether or not they used Facebook.

So if Musk does bring Trump and his supporters back in the name of free speech, one effect might be to make Twitter a little more stratospheric. Of course, this may be one of Musk’s desired effects. But even then, with only 40 percent of the U.S. population using Twitter, it doesn’t represent the whole picture of American politics, especially those who don’t use it.

But the bigger question is, does Musk really stand for free speech? This question is closely related to the Taiwan question.

How many people in Taiwan use Twitter? The proportion is very small. Twitter accounts for about 10 percent of Taiwan’s population, but according to a post-election survey conducted by TEDS2020, only 0.1 percent (two out of 1,680 people) said they use Twitter to get political information. As a result, Twitter policies (or defenses above) may be insensitive to the average Taiwanese.

However, the Taiwan government has made several excellent diplomatic performances through Twitter, such as Tsai Ing-wen’s warm interaction with Japanese and US political circles through Twitter, the US State Department’s support for Taiwan’s accession to the WHO through Twitter, and the milk tea Alliance launched by various countries to strengthen the connection between Taiwan and other countries’ netizens. In the recent Ukraina-Russia war, Ukraine also used Twitter to change world public opinion and gain world support to fight against Russia’s invasion. These all show that Twitter is far more important to Taiwan’s politics than ordinary Taiwanese people realize.

Therefore, Musk’s purchase of Twitter and his personal political attitude could significantly affect Taiwan’s defense and diplomacy. Unfortunately, given Musk’s values and track record, buying Twitter might not be good news for Taiwan — especially Musk’s ties to China.

Musk’s automatic-car company, Tesla, has large factories and investments in China, and the recent lockdown in Shanghai has thrown its production line into crisis. But when Tesla’s cars broke down in the past few years, prompting protests in China, the company contacted Chinese officials, asking them to take down articles and videos related to the protests, according to Bloomberg. Not only does Musk have a close relationship with the Chinese authorities, but he is not 100% supportive of free speech.

Of course, Musk may not be an absolute believer in free speech, but rather a believer in “free speech within the law,” since Musk has repeatedly said that “legitimate” speech on Twitter can be freely disseminated. This kind of discussion may have helped Musk fire several employees who leaked trade secrets in the past. After all, trade secrets may be protected by American law and cannot be regarded as legal freedom of speech.

But for transnational platforms and international political discourse, the focus becomes: whose law?

The United States has a constitution, but China has an anti-secession law. If China today on the grounds of the anti-secession law, asked twitter to remove President tsai ing-wen’s twitter account, or complete filling the one-china principle in all of Taiwan’s official account below, or “illegal”, that used to need China censoring speech Musk, as legal) will deal with Taiwan’s twitter account? If Tesla is answerable to its shareholders, but depends on China for its operations, will China limit Taiwan’s space on Twitter through political change?

The problem could be even worse for Taiwan if combined with Musk’s principle of making 10% unhappy on each side. Because there are far more Internet users in China than in Taiwan. If based on the equality of the surface, the twitter account of a platform with quite the punishment of thousands, that might not have a Taiwan account, but rather in the account may only be a small part. And with Twitter being bought out of the market, we don’t even have any public means to monitor it, either through stock or legislation, and that leaves the Pro-Taiwan lobby with little leverage in Congress. While Musk has talked about reducing the number of bots by authenticating users, it could actually reduce the number of bots. But how to authenticate Chinese netizens? Ultimately, certification will have to be done in cooperation with the Chinese government, and the result is more likely to be a significant increase in the proportion of Chinese Twitter users traveling with missions.

So, in conclusion, for Musk to buy Twitter, Taiwan’s politicians and people should carefully watch his views on China and how he shapes policy on freedom of expression across borders. In external supervision difficult circumstances, what we need in addition to twitter from outside supervision unit (American politics) to supervise, also need to get enough help from within (such as twitter itself, or make twitter set up a third party, like facebook as external committee, even outside the committee of facebook run slow).

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