Elon Musk would be making a disastrous mistake to allow pornography on X

Elon Musk’s decision to purchase Twitter in 2022 for $44 billion was a game-changer. Due to his longstanding commitment to freedom of speech and his stated intention to ensure that Twitter remained — or became — the “digital public square,” he began by eliminating many of the restrictions that had previously choked off debate on incredibly contentious cultural issues.  

As I noted in a recent essay, his purchase of Twitter allowed critics of gender ideology to speak the truth on the platform — something that had been previously forbidden under Twitter’s Orwellian ban on “misgendering” (accurately noting the sex of a trans-identified person). Without Musk at the helm, for example, J.K. Rowling would not have been able to take on — and neuter — Scotland’s new “hate crime” law. 

Twitter (or X) has had plenty of problems since Musk’s takeover as he and his team work through the new rules, tweak the algorithms, and implement their own biases. Despite all that, X has still served effectively as Musk’s desired “digital public square” for several key cultural debates. But a new policy change may change the trajectory of the social media site for good if Musk doesn’t change course. 

As Newsweek reported, X has now released a new position on pornography, stating that “we believe that users should be able to create, distribute, and consume material related to sexual themes as long as it is consensually produced and distributed. We believe in the autonomy of adults to engage with and create content that reflects their own beliefs, desire, and experiences, including those related to sexuality.” 

Anticipating user concerns, the policy states: “We balance this freedom by restricting exposure to Adult Content for children or adult users who choose not to see it.” In short, Musk’s move to a “user model” for X is apparently culminating in a shift toward becoming a hybrid of social media and Only Fans, with little regard for users who may not wish to participate in political discourse on a platform inundated by pornography.  

X does attempt to offer a fig leaf to those who object to being exposed to pornography: “If you regularly post adult content on X, we ask that you please adjust your media settings. Doing so places all your images and videos behind a content warning that needs to be acknowledged before your media can be viewed. You can also add a one-time content warning on individual posts. If you continue to fail marking your posts, we will adjust your account settings for you.” 

The only effort X is expending toward keeping underage viewers away from pornography is assuming the honesty of those seeking such content: “Users under 18 or viewers who do not include a birth date on their profile cannot click to view marked content.” This, obviously, is woefully inadequate and would do next to nothing to prevent unverified users from simply surfing whatever pornography they wish to see. 

Some users have noted that pornography is already showing up more often on X, and that this new policy could open the floodgates. Musk has already responded to the backlash. When one user asked if there was an available function that could allow people to use X without being exposed to pornography, Musk personally replied, “This is a top priority.” That, it must be said, is not good enough. As it stands, X’s policy ensures that minors will be able to access pornography, and makes it increasingly likely that everyday users will be exposed to it. 

Thus far, the user reaction seems unified in opposition to Musk’s move. Hopefully, he responds by rescinding this policy. Turning X from the digital public square into a squalid pornography site would be a stunning collapse — and prove Musk’s critics right.  

One thought on “Elon Musk would be making a disastrous mistake to allow pornography on X

  1. Oscar Ortiz says:

    It’s sad, but Elon doesn’t know that the real fight is against the Prince of the world who effectively plays both sides.

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