Irish President Decries Musk Twitter Takeover as ‘Form of Dictatorship’

GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images
GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images

Ireland’s leftist president has decried the purchasing of social media companies by billionaires like Elon Musk as a “form of dictatorship” on a TV station owned by the Irish state.

Ireland’s President Michael D Higgins has once again barged into the conversation surrounding the takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk, saying that the ability of billionaires to buy social media giants and control how content is controlled on those platforms represents an “absurd form of dictatorship”.

President Higgins made the comments while on a televised talk show produced and aired by a TV station owned by the Irish state.

During the rather softball interview conducted by the state-funded broadcaster Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ), which covered topics ranging from the commemoration of the Irish Civil War to football, Higgins doubled down on his condemnation of wealthy individuals’ “concentrated ownership” of social media platforms, having previously condemned billionaire acquisitions as “dangerous narcissism“.

While refusing to say that he was discussing the Musk deal specifically, the Irish president said that the “understanding” once had with the likes of newspapers did not exist with social media.

“You had a kind of a code — an understanding — as to what is legitimate comment and so forth, and if that was breached how it could be handled,” he said in response to a question from host Ryan Tubridy.

“Then you get the development of social media and so on: why would you say — why would anyone say — that those who can concentrate the greatest ownership should be the people who should be the people who would decide how people should deal with each other in communication?”

“It is such an absurd form of dictatorship in a way,” he continued, adding: “You don’t have to be a mad, left-wing person to believe that, it’s just about democracy.”

However, while the Irish president has been rather vocal on the issue of social media censorship since the news that Elon Musk would acquire Twitter, the issue did not seem to be important enough for him to comment on during the platform’s years-long clampdown on conservative and right-leaning voices, up to and including banning the then-sitting President of the United States, Donald Trump, in tandem with other Big Tech firms such as Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook.

President Higgins has also declined to voice concern over threats from the European Union — a supranational bloc in which Ireland is a member-state, unlike the neighbouring United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland — that if Musk refused to keep the censorship machine going, the Union would kick the platform out of the bloc.

He also does not appear to have any issue with the influence the state has on public discourse as a result of the public funding of broadcasters, with the President himself collaborating with RTÉ to produce the Machnamh 100 series on historic events that occurred in Ireland a century ago.

What’s more, the president seems to have remained quiet on the moves by various private media outlets in Ireland to secure public funding, with one of that nation’s broadsheet newspapers even going so far as to publish pro-EU propaganda paid for seemingly in full by the Irish state — despite the concerns this raises about their independence from government power.

Succinctly titled ‘A bright future ahead with the support of the EU: How Ireland is becoming resilient, diverse and empowered’, the piece published by the Irish Independent extolled the virtues of green policy, immigration, and the bloc’s Single Market.

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