Billionaire industrialist Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter sent shockwaves throughout the media last week, igniting a larger conversation among voters about how his ownership of the influential platform could have an effect on the upcoming midterm elections in the United States.
In an effort to better understand whether Musk’s Twitter takeover could have an impact on the looming elections, Fox News Digital reached out to political insiders from across the spectrum and asked them whether they believe Musk’s recent acquirement of the social media platform is the October surprise many Americans have been waiting for.
October surprises — typically identified as events or stories that have the potential to upend the election chances for a candidate or party — have been relevant to numerous presidential and midterm elections throughout American history, but political insiders appear to have differing opinions on whether Musk’s new ownership of Twitter could serve as one of them.
While some insiders suggest Twitter’s algorithms could soon change to shine light on conservative voices who use the social media site ahead of the elections, others suggest that there won’t be a drastic change to the platform’s content moderation and that the takeover is far from an October surprise.
Rachel Bovard: ‘A game changer’
“Elon Musk taking over Twitter is a game changer for the midterms. In just over two years, Twitter suppressed a story about Hunter Biden’s laptop ahead of the 2020 presidential elections, permanently banned a sitting president from their platform, banned thousands of users who shared information about COVID19 that ended up being true, and banned thousands more for having the gall to say men were men, and women are women. The people who made those decisions have now been fired.”
“If Musk can now rid Twitter of the ideological suppression and algorithmic distortion built into their content moderation practices, Twitter could actually end up being a politically diverse, free speech driven platform. The kind of platform which informs democracy, instead of manipulating it.”
Bovard is senior director of policy for the Conservative Partnership Institute.
Laura Fink: Musk’s Twitter takeover will ‘further erode faith in our democracy’
“More Trick or Treat than October Surprise, Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover is set to open the door to election deniers and conspiracy liars, misinformation purveyors, race baiters, antisemites and women haters. Elon appears set to ‘Treat’ them to a platform and a megaphone that will allow them to ‘Trick’ voters and suppress the vote, harass and threaten people they hate, and foment unrest and violence without interference. If Musk goes through with his plans, not only will election interference increase in 2022, but those leveraging lies and division will further erode faith in our democracy and in an America where we work to resolve our differences with the vote, not violence.”
Fink is founder and CEO of Rebelle Communications.
Brendan Steinhauser: Musk could be a defender of free speech
“Elon Musk’s takeover could mark a strong shift away from leftist control over every aspect of big tech, and into a time of free expression and open dialogue. There is no defense for a big tech company to censor comments which are deemed ‘dangerous’ to the current political regime. Hopefully, Musk understands that open dialogue is much more important than ad revenue or political partisanship.”
“The right to free speech is the First Amendment to the Constitution for a reason — it signifies a level of human liberty which we must protect at all costs.”
Steinhauser is chief strategy officer for Young Americans for Liberty.
Adam Green: Backlash to Musk might favor Democrats
“If Elon Musk reminds voters that Trump is trying to make a comeback, and that voting Republican in 2022 is a vote to increase Trump’s voice as he attacks our democracy, that could accidentally help Democrats.”
Green is co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
Erin Perrine: Twitter changes won’t surprise electorate, just the ‘leftist Twitter employees’
“I wouldn’t consider this an October surprise because it likely won’t determine the outcome of the election. It really only appears to be a surprise for leftist Twitter employees who are facing the reality they won’t be able to silence voices they disagree with anymore.”
Perrine is former communications director for Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Adam Kovacevich: No change to content moderation, no surprise
“The biggest surprise with Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter is how little content moderation is likely to change. If Twitter wants more reach, happy users, and more ad revenue, there’s no question it will need to continue removing harmful and hateful posts.”
Kovacevich is founder and CEO of Chamber of Progress.
Bill Ottoman: More freedom of speech will ‘inevitably’ impact elections
“Assuming Elon Musk rapidly institutes free speech and opens the algorithms, elections will inevitably be impacted. Transparency into shadow banning and elimination of bias in content ranking will enable information to be distributed freely, which voters need to make informed decisions. It’s also likely that revelations will come to light which expose past government involvement in social media censorship.”
“We hope that Elon will stick to his word by open sourcing the code, encrypting messages and overhauling Twitter’s content policy to more closely reflect the First amendment the same way that minds.com does. Our research proves that this ultimately results in more civil dialogue and deradicalization. Deplatforming makes misinformation and extremism accelerate more than free speech.”
Ottoman is CEO of Minds.com
The comments provided to Fox News Digital in this article are part of a weekend series in which strategists from across the political spectrum are asked the same questions related to political hot topics and are provided with an opportunity to offer their perspective.