Elon Musk would bring out the worst of Sports on Twitter

Placeholder while article actions load

If Elon Musk, who’s either doing a really good job imitating a Bond movie villain or actually is one, takes over Twitter then we’re all doomed, even in sports.

I just might have to leave the app, forsake my coveted blue check mark and fire up the old Myspace page. Maybe it still has my clever and deep bio, which was probably just garbled Erykah Badu lyrics anyway. No matter how much of a boomer that app would make me feel, I have to consider fleeing Twitter before Musk has a chance to deregulate it and destroy the last vestiges of sanity on sports’ favorite social network.

The app in its present form can dovetail into silly season, but it’s mostly harmless fun. The playground where we can all start in our most guiltiest of pleasures: reading someone’s misuse of “your” and “you’re” when they disagree with a sportswriter’s opinion, playing Nancy Drew whenever an athlete posts a cryptic message, waiting for Kevin Durant to search his name and then try to dunk on someone with 20 followers. And our favorite new game: “Which Coach Will Read It On Woj’s Timeline First Before He Actually Gets Fired?”

How Elon Musk played Twitter

But if Musk’s $ 43 billion hostile takeover succeeds, then Evil Sports Twitter will become the mosh pit of misinformation. Musk fancies himself as a “Free speech absolutist,” meaning any speech goes and should not be redacted nor suppressed. Even if it involves branding someone as a pedophile to 80 million followers – as Musk did in 2018 – for kicks and giggles.

This type of mayhem is already happening in 280 characters at a time all across the platform. Say something benign about Brian Flores’ class-action lawsuit against the NFL and prepare for the deluge of accusations of being a race-baiter. Agree with the decision from Major League Baseball and the players’ association to extend Trevor Bauer’s administrative leave and watch out for the wannabe defense attorneys who too quickly rely on his courtroom win even though he has admitted to physically assaulting his sexual partner. And whatever you do – please, pleassse – don’t you be a woman enough to write something on Twitter.

So you might argue, we already fight like children on this here cesspool of an app. What’s going to be so different if Musk takes over?

Plenty. Every day will be April Fools’ Day on Sports Twitter. There’s already a proliferation of fake news generated by users with too much time on their hands, but imagine even more fake Schefter accounts popping up with designs of fooling not only the public, but his own place of employment.

We’ve grown customized to believing that the amount of followers someone has equates to their veracity. So when those graphic images that feature an athlete or coach and their juicy quotes in big, block letters appear in our timeline, we’re programmed to trust it. But imagine more fake news outlets attributing fiction to real people, like Los Angeles Clippers forward Marcus Morris, Jr. dissing the 2020 Lakers championship. That never happened, but Morris found his likeness on a parody account and felt strongly enough to deny the “report” in a tweet, which he later deleted.

Also, athletes should be ready for even more well-thought out and insightful comments from egg profiles. If anything goes, as Musk wishes, there would be no recourse in stopping verbal abuse from the Twitter Thugs who feel emboldened to post their now vile thoughts under the cover of anonymity.

Many users on the platform have been banned in the past for spreading misinformation; a quibble of those who decry Twitter as a form of censorship. Although we should vigilantly fight for free speech and evict ourselves from our own echo chambers, we must also be mature enough to know the difference between unshackled expression and straight-up lies. Free speech should be protected – the open-door accessibility to deceive and negatively influence the public should not.

But take the brakes off, eschew any form of moderation and legitimize all kinds of speech, and the gutter version of this network will be magnified. Luckily for us, the devolution of our society will wait, for now.

Five reasons it will be hard for Elon Musk to buy Twitter

On Friday, Twitter pressed the block button on Musk’s takeover bid by enacting a “poison pill” play. Think of it as an attempt to stop more fake news breaker accounts from tweeting that Kyler Murray, two future first-rounders and a gallon of Arizona iced tea have been traded to Detroit.

Twitter doesn’t have to play up our darkest and dumbest impulses. It truly can be a marketplace of ideas where many of us go and shop around – for links to stories that humanize our sports heroes, for a virtual sports bar where we react and rejoice together while watching the big game, or for just those delicious clips of Iowa’s Caitlin Clark raining threes from the logo.

In its highest form, Sports Twitter can educate and entertain us. But with Musk, and without a referee, our favorite playground would become just another place where we can’t escape the ugliness of our society.

Leave a Comment