(LifeSiteNews) — On the one-year anniversary of iconoclastic tech mogul Elon Musk taking over the social network formerly known as Twitter, a coalition of free speech advocates has signed an open letter congratulating him for his commitment to freer online discourse and asking for an expansion of one of his specific promises.
In August, Musk offered to all users of the platform since rebranded as X, “If you were unfairly treated by your employer due to posting or liking something on this platform, we will fund your legal bill. No limit.” That promise is a focal point of an open letter released this week by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) International, thanking him “for being a global champion of free speech.”
“For a truly comprehensive response to free speech restrictions, our request is that you extend this important offer to cases of state-driven censorship,” the letter suggests. “Free speech is broadly protected by every major human rights treaty; however, in the West, speech increasingly is targeted by ‘hate speech’ laws. In other regions, blasphemy laws target minority groups, sometimes with the sentence of death. These repressive laws are two sides of the same coin—both punish those who speak out against state-approved views.”
“If X is to be a free marketplace of ideas, everyone must be able to peacefully debate the issues of our time without fear of government punishment,” the letter argues. “Given your commitment to free speech and unrivaled capacity to effect change, we ask that you harness X to make clear that no one should be punished under the law for peaceful expression on X or any platform.”
To that end, it suggests that Musk designate funds specifically for legal challenges to state-sponsored censorship, establish a dedicated application process for such funds, and use X’s “Spaces” live discussion feature to call attention to such cases.
Signatories include ADF International executive director Paul Coleman, former U.S. International Religious Freedom ambassador-at-large Sam Brownback, Nile Gardiner, former aide to late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon; University of Buckingham politics professor Eric Kaufmann; Brownstone Institute president Jeffrey Tucker; ADF CEO Kristen Waggoner, and various conservative journalists, academics, and media personalities.
The general public is also invited to add their signatures at the link to the letter.
“Unfortunately, we see state-driven censorship on the rise across the world with individuals being punished at the hands of government for peaceful expression, including for what they say on Twitter/X. This trend not only makes self-government impossible, but it impairs true social progress,” said Waggoner in a press release. “Elon Musk has shown rare leadership on the issue of free speech […] On the one year anniversary of taking the helm of Twitter, we celebrate Elon’s commitment to the marketplace of ideas and ask for his help in standing for those facing government censorship.”
Musk purchased Twitter in October 2022 and set to work making it more open and politically neutral. To that end, he has instituted a number of reforms to the platform and other actions that have overjoyed conservatives, such as replacing fact-checkers with a far more accurate, user-driven Community Notes feature, releasing troves of information about the previous management’s censorship activities, reversing the old Twitter’s classification of “deadnaming” as bannable “hate speech,” and reinstating numerous high-profile accounts banned by the old regime.
However, there have also been some setbacks and causes for concern as to how thoroughly the platform will change, such as Musk hiring former World Economic Forum executive chair Linda Yaccarino to take over day-to-day business operations as CEO and giving lip service to the notion that “outrageous” content should be subject to reduced “freedom of reach.”
Earlier this month, Musk called for the disbanding of NewsGuard, a service that supposedly rates the credibility and objectivity of information sources but in reality is heavily biased itself, following revelations that the group is working with the European Union on regulation of online speech.