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Elon Musk’s Twitter is fast proving that free speech at all costs is a dangerous fantasy | Nesrine Malik

Reinstating the likes of Donald Trump and Kanye West looks likely to turn the social media site into an extremist ghetto

Free speech absolutists are like the cocky audience of a spectator sport – they think they could do better than the players, if they were just allowed a crack at it. To them, speech should be as free as possible, period. Nowhere is their oversimplification of the issue more evident than on social media, where abuse and disinformation have created a new frontier of regulation – and with it a cohort of disingenuous free speech warriors.

These absolutists are so unaccustomed to facing consequences for their actions that they have pushed the idea that a censoring “woke” orthodoxy now prevails, and is a threat to freedom of expression. Elon Musk is among them, but since his takeover of Twitter he is having to learn quickly that free speech is not simply about saying whatever you want, unchecked, but about negotiating complicated compromises.

Nesrine Malik is a Guardian columnist

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