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Elon Musk isn’t a threat to society’s health - All billionaires are

The mega-rich buy up media outlets precisely because a lie is more likely to fly than the truth – including the lie that they are invaluable.

by Jonathan Cook 

Part 3 - ‘King of trolls’

This brings us to the second misguided “row” about Musk buying Twitter and its 217 million users: that his supposed commitment to free speech will further tear apart the health of our democracies. Put bluntly; the fear is that allowing Donald Trump and his followers back into the Twitterverse will unleash the forces of darkness we have been struggling to keep at bay.

Environmentalist George Monbiot, a columnist at the liberal establishment newspaper The Guardian, calls Musk’s influence “lethal.

His colleague Aditya Chakrabortty visibly quivers with anxiety at the prospect of a Twitter molded in Musk’s image, calling him the “king of trolls.” Democracy, Chakrabortty avers, must defend itself not only from the Trumps but from those who enable them through their “free speech absolutism.

As is expected in such articles, Chakrabortty bolsters his argument with a statistic or two. For example, a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) finds that false stories on Twitter are 70% more likely to be retweeted than the truth. Putting Musk in charge of this lie factory will bring civilization crashing down, we are warned.

Let us set aside for a moment how MIT defines truth and falsehood, and assume it is capable of divining such things correctly. Again the study’s logic is compelling only so long as we stare at a single tree and ignore the forest all around.

The reason billionaires and corporations – as well as states – want to control the media is precisely that a lie is more likely to fly than the truth. Our societies have been engineered on this principle since we divided into leaders and followers.

If truth reigned supreme, and media platforms could do little to sway us from seeing reality clearly, the richest people on the planet would not be investing their money in buying their own bit of real estate in the media landscape.

But then again, if we could all see reality clearly – unclouded by corporate media interference – there wouldn’t be any billionaires. We would have understood that their extreme wealth was too much of a threat to be allowed, that their fortunes could too easily be turned against us, buying our politicians and turning our democracies into increasingly hollow shells, stripped of the good things we intended.

If billionaires weren’t making fortunes from weapons sales, we surely wouldn’t be endlessly cheering on wars.

If billionaires didn’t demand the right to buy politicians, we might be more ready to address our dysfunctional political and media systems.

If billionaires weren’t profiting from the destruction of the natural world, we might be having a more realistic conversation about the impending extinction of our species.

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