Personal Freedoms

published : 2023-11-10

Free-speech advocates urge Elon Musk to fight 'state-sponsored censorship': petition

Letter to X owner warns of 'mounting trend of government suppression' of free speech

A close-up photo of Elon Musk, CEO of X (formerly Twitter), taken with a Nikon D850.

Renowned billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, CEO of X (formerly Twitter), has been called upon by more than 50 human rights groups, journalists, commentators, and think tanks to leverage his position and combat the rising tide of 'state-sponsored censorship' on the social media platform.

In an open letter, the signatories highlight the concerning threats to free expression, noting that such infringement often occurs when businesses unfairly target employees for sharing their personal views.

The petition also draws attention to the alarming trend of increased government suppression of speech, wherein serious penalties and even criminal sanctions are imposed on individuals exercising their freedom of expression.

The letter specifically requests that Musk extend his support to cases involving state-driven censorship, emphasizing the urgent need for a comprehensive response to the growing restrictions on free speech.

This call to action comes in the wake of Elon Musk's decision to purchase X, a move motivated by his concerns over the far-left ideologies that have caused turmoil in San Francisco, fearing their spread across the nation.

An aerial view of protesters advocating for free speech, holding up signs and banners, captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

Addressing these concerns, Musk made a significant announcement on August 5, 2023, stating, 'If you were unfairly treated by your employer due to posting or liking something on this platform, we will fund your legal bill without any limit.'

The signatories assert that free speech is a fundamental right protected by major human rights treaties worldwide. However, they underline the growing erosion of this right, citing the rise of 'hate speech' laws in Western countries and blasphemy laws in other regions that target minority groups, sometimes carrying the sentence of death.

Three active cases are specifically highlighted to demonstrate the severity of the issue. In Finland, a parliamentarian and former government minister face criminal charges for 'hate speech' stemming from a Bible-verse tweet. The maximum penalty she faces under the Finnish criminal code's 'War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity' section is two years imprisonment.

Meanwhile, in Mexico, a former congressman and a sitting congressman have been convicted of 'gender-based political violence' for expressing their views on biological sex, leading to their names being placed on an offenders' register and subjecting them to public humiliation through daily court-written apologies posted on X.

Furthermore, at the international level, the European Commission is pushing to criminalize 'hate speech' across the European Union, potentially elevating it to the same legal level as trafficking and terrorism. This move could significantly impact the way governments monitor and regulate speech, especially as X has been identified as the platform with the highest number of mis/disinformation posts by European Commission VP Věra Jourová.

A group of human rights activists engaged in a peaceful demonstration, demanding an end to state-sponsored censorship, photographed with a Sony Alpha a7 III.

In light of Elon Musk's commitment to free speech and his unparalleled capacity to effect change, the letter urges him to utilize X to convey a clear message — that no one should face legal punishment for peacefully expressing their views on the platform or any other.

The esteemed group of signatories, including Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon, Alliance Defending Freedom International CEO Paul Coleman, former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's former aide Nile Gardiner, and academics from prestigious institutions like Oxford and Cambridge universities, call on Musk to allocate funds to support legal challenges against state-sponsored censorship on X. They also propose the creation of an intake mechanism for individuals to apply for this support, as well as the establishment of X Spaces to draw global attention to censorship cases involving governments and the workplace.

The letter concludes with a resounding message, stressing that if X truly aims to be a marketplace of ideas, it must guarantee a safe space for peaceful debates on the pressing issues of our time, free from the fear of government retribution.

The global community eagerly awaits Elon Musk's response as they look to him as a beacon of hope in the fight to protect and preserve the essential right to free expression.