Many Twitter users are fearful for the future of the popular social media site since it was purchased by Elon Musk. He is taking the company private and will be the sole proprietor. He has said he is an absolutist on free speech, which raises questions about whether he will tolerate hate speech, lies, propaganda, anti-vaxxers, disinformation, even Donald Trump, who was permanently banned from Twitter for inciting violence.

Now, the concern about Musk was stoked when he retweeted gossip from a free weekly (the Santa Monica Observer) that Paul Pelosi was drunk, high on drugs, and got into a fight with a man he picked up at a gay bar.

Musk posted that there was a “tiny possibility” that this was true. As readers began to react with incredulity that the new owner would spread unsubstantiated gossip, Musk deleted his tweet. Musk has 112 million followers on Twitter.

The San Francisco Chronicle wrote:

Musk responded Sunday at 5:15 a.m. Pacific time with a tweet that said, “There is a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye,” and posted a link to a baseless, anti-LGBTQ article in the Santa Monica Observer. By 10:30 a.m. Sunday, the message and link had been retweeted more than 30,000 times and liked more than 110,000 times, before being deleted less than an hour later.

Last year, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Santa Monica Observer was “notorious for publishing false news,” and once claimed “that Hillary Clinton had died and that a body double had been sent to debate Donald Trump.”

Axios posted that the Santa Monica Observer is not a trustworthy site.

Why it matters: Musk linked to an article from the Santa Monica Observer, a website known for years for publishing false stories.

  • The site “is anything but trustworthy,” according to an executive at NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalists to rate news and information sites.
  • The site has a trust score of 44.5 out of 100 points on NewsGuard’s rating scale for trustworthiness, due to repeatedly publishing numerous conspiracy theories and false claims about politics, the pandemic and more.
  • The site gets a red-rating and a warning for readers that says: “Proceed with caution: This website fails to adhere to several basic journalistic standards.”

Responsible people in the media fact-check. Musk didn’t think it was necessary. This does not bode well for the future of Twitter.

We have had our fill of conspiracy theories in the past six years.

It’s awful to think that the sole owner of Twitter will be a dupe for conspiracy theories and gossip and spread them to his millions of readers.

Just for laughs, read this article in The Intercept, which predicts that Elon Musk will regret his purchase of Twitter.

It begins:

ELON MUSK (and his consortium of much smaller investors) now owns Twitter. We need to take seriously the possibility that this will end up being one of the funniest things that’s ever happened.

That’s because as of this moment, it looks like Musk dug a big hole in the forest, carefully filled it with punji sticks and crocodiles, and then jumped in.