Six in Ten College Students Are Opposed to Elon Musk Owning Twitter, Poll Finds

© AP Photo / Gregory BullThe Twitter splash page is seen on a digital device, Monday, April 25, 2022, in San Diego.
The Twitter splash page is seen on a digital device, Monday, April 25, 2022, in San Diego. - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.05.2022
On April 25, Elon Musk, the richest man in the world and CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink, and the Boring Company, had his bid for the social media platform Twitter accepted for a purchase of approximately $44 billion.
A recent poll by Generation Lab-Axios has revealed that the majority of college students are not in favor of South African native Elon Musk owning or controlling tech giant Twitter.
The Monday poll asked college students how likely they were to support Musk’s big vision for Twitter’s future, after news broke that Musk’s bid to own the social media platform was accepted.
The study was conducted on a sample of 867 students across the United States and included those attending 2-year and 4-year schools, as well as technical, trade, public and private institutions.
The poll found that while a majority of college students don’t “like” most mega-billionaires, such as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and business magnate Warren Buffet, a small handful (35%) did prefer Musk compared to the others.
However, Musk may have a hard time getting college students to agree with what he claims to be his motivation for buying Twitter: free speech, with Musk having gone so far as to claim himself to be a “free speech absolutist.”

Upon announcing his plans to buy Twitter last week, Musk wrote: “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.”

Musk’s claims of concern regarding “free speech” has worried some who believe the mega-billionaire’s opinion on free speech may differ from their own, and would work to protect those who wish to cyberbully, abuse or promote extremist content under a liberal guise.
Monday’s poll asked students: “When it comes to speech on social media, what types of content should be removed? (Select all that apply).” Students then responded with 74% voting for “threats of violence,” 72% chose “racial slurs,” 67% said “false statements about health and medicine,” 66% voted for “hate speech” and 65% said “false statements about elections and voting.”
Only 11% of students said “none of the above.”
Of the majority of social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok, students were asked to select which one they trusted to make “wise decisions about important things.” Twitter was (vaguely) the most popular with 12%, while Facebook was the least popular among students, scraping by with a trustworthiness of only 6%. The majority, which was 77%, said “none of the above.”
In the poll, 58% of students said that they do not want Musk to own and control Twitter, but 70% said that his buying Twitter will have no impact on whether they are more likely or less likely to use the platform.
“I think Musk’s conception of free expression is both contradictory and foolish,” said Jillian York, a free speech activist and the author of “Silicon Values: the Future of Free Speech Under Surveillance Capitalism.”

“Absolutism on a platform like Twitter fails to take into account the very real harms that Twitter can cause as a global platform, for instance being used by malicious actors like [Daesh*] and rightwing extremists,” she added. “Platforms like Twitter are a completely different animal and you’re talking about somebody’s ability to ruin someone’s life in an instant.”

As it stands now, Musk’s ideas for change have been remarkably varied. He has proposed features in tweets such as an edit button, or the authentication checkmark for users who subscribe to Twitter Blue— a 3$ monthly subscription that allows users access to an “undo button” and ad-free news articles. But all these flashy features he’s peddling are only a small aspect of his bigger aim: to make use of his $44 billion investment.
In fact, recent news broke that Musk is actually trying to minimize the amount of money he puts into his new Twitter deal. According to sources Musk is discussing with his investment firms ways to “finance” his $44 billion bid and is also asking large Twitter shareholders to roll their current stakes into his new business venture instead of cashing out.
*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist organisation outlawed in Russia and many other states
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