Retweet this — maybe #BlackTwitter should start its own platform

Leonard Greene
New York Daily News (TNS)
Elon Musk pauses and looks down as he speaks during a news conference at SpaceX's Starbase facility near Boca Chica Village in South Texas on Feb. 10, 2022. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

I just blocked Elon Musk.

OK, I didn’t really. But I can say I did, because I can say anything I want on Twitter because it’s all about free speech, isn’t it?

Plenty of people actually did block him, for all the good it will do, because if Musk’s $44 billion bid to buy Twitter goes through, what’s there to stop him from removing the block button?

That’s just one of the many questions being asked in the days since Musk, the multibillionaire Tesla founder, launched a hostile takeover of the social media giant.

Here’s another: What does this mean for #BlackTwitter?

Yes, Black Twitter. There really is such a thing, and the people most heavily invested in it ― emotionally, not financially — will tell you the sky is falling.

More:Musk buys Twitter for $44B, plans to take it private

More:What happens to social justice and culture on Twitter with Elon Musk at the helm?

Black Twitter is an internet community made up largely of African American users on the social network who are focused on issues surrounding social activism and racial injustice.

Its high-profile hashtag campaigns have included #OscarsSoWhite, #BlackLivesMatter, #ICantBreathe and #SayHerName.

Even the #MeToo movement, which upended business as usual in government and corporate America, was started by a Black woman.

“Black Twitter has been used by Black people as a platform to communicate support and call out racial injustice in the United States,” said Jennefer Witter, CEO of the Bronx-based Boreland Group, which focuses on personal branding and social media messaging.

“The great thing about #BlackTwitter is that it is worldwide and generates a mass of voices.”

But the fear is that those voices will be shouted down if Musk relaxes the rules and lets former President Donald Trump and all the other racist Twitter trolls go unchecked.

Even with restrictions that are already in place, people of color are routinely attacked on Twitter — and women of color are attacked even more.

In fact, women of color — that is, Black, Asian, Latina and mixed-race women — were 34% more likely to be mentioned in abusive or problematic tweets than white women, according to an Amnesty International analysis.

Black women were disproportionately targeted — they were 84% more likely than white women to be mentioned in abusive or problematic tweets, the analysis said.

Musk, meanwhile, says he’d be “very reluctant to delete things” or maintain permanent bans.

“Timeouts, I think, are better,” he said.

Musk’s record on issues of race do not inspire confidence. His Tesla car company is being sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing in the largest racial discrimination suit ever brought by the state,

It was filed on behalf of more than 4,000 current and former employees, all of whom are Black.

They alleged that they were often the targets of racist slurs by co-workers and supervisors and that Tesla segregated Black workers, gave them the hardest work at its manufacturing plant and denied them promotions. The lawsuit says the company ignored their complaints.

Even with that kind of record, Witter says it’s too early to abandon the Twitter ship.

“I say let’s wait,” Witter said. “Let’s see what’s going to happen.”

The other alternative is to follow Trump’s example. Yes, Trump’s example. When Twitter kicked him off its platform, he started his own social media app. He calls it Truth Social.

About 11% of Twitter users are Black, according to a 2018 Pew Research analysis. Even Twitter founder Jack Dorsey called #BlackTwitter a “powerful force.”

“I feel like there will be another wave or online movement led by people of color,” Witter said. “BlackTwitter is strong. If it’s created by a Black individual it will draw the audience there and be just as powerful.”