Elon Musk's 'X' marks the spot for Nazis, disinformation. Why?

Why are Silicon Valley titans veering hard into far-right politics?

Elon Musk's 'X' marks the spot for Nazis, disinformation. Why?
Elon Musk and the Gray ideology

by Gil Duran | FrameLab

In November 2022, shortly after Elon Musk bought Twitter, I wrote the following:

With American democracy under threat, Musk’s Twitter is giving us a clear glimpse of the world he would like to see.

It’s a world that empowers dictators, fascists, white supremacists, Nazis, disinformation and misinformation. It’s a world in which billionaires enjoy total power over everyone else, and where straight white men hold dominion.

It’s a world where people can no longer distinguish truth from lies because technology has sucked us all into the manipulative babble of Twitter.

Musk seeks to create a dynamic where organized misinformation shares equal billing with respected journalism, and where people can’t tell the difference between the two.

Unfortunately, Musk continues to prove these words correct. From a recent NBC News story headlined “Verified pro-Nazi accounts flourish under Elon Musk” by David Ingram:

Elon Musk’s X is a thriving hub for Nazi support and propaganda, with paid subscribers sharing speeches by Adolf Hitler or content praising his genocidal regime.

NBC News found that at least 150 paid “Premium” subscriber X accounts and thousands of unpaid accounts have posted or amplified pro-Nazi content on X in recent months, often in apparent violation of X’s rules. The paid accounts posting the content all consistently posted antisemitic or pro-Nazi material. Examples included praise of Nazi soldiers, sharing of Nazi symbols and denials of the Holocaust.

NBC’s report is just the latest to confirm that Musk has turned Twitter into a bastion of hate and disinformation, with the purpose of shifting the online discourse toward radical authoritarian politics.

But Musk is not the only super-rich tech figure to embrace extreme right-wing politics. As the wealth of Silicon Valley figures has grown to unprecedented levels, some prominent tech zillionaires are shifting dramatically toward far-right, authoritarian politics. They seem determined to use their immense wealth to undermine democracy.

What explains this shift? How can we best understand its goals and motivations? Why are some of tech’s most well-known figures becoming virulently anti-progressive and pro-authoritarian?

For the past several months, I have been researching and reporting on the development of this new ideology, which goes by different names: techno-authoritarianism, TESCREAL, tech plutocracy…some even call it tech fascism.

It has many things in common with Republican ideology, but it also has some distinctive characteristics. Over the next few weeks, I will categorize the main elements of this this emerging ideology and explain why it (increasingly) matters.

To start, it helps to think of ideology in terms of color. Blue is traditionally associated with the Democratic Party, or progressive-leaning politics. Red is traditionally associated with the Republican Party, or regressive-leaning politics.

The new tech ideology has been labeled as “Gray” by some of its strongest proponents. So, for the purposes of mapping out this moral system, we will start within the frame of Gray.

I want to make this interactive, with feedback from FrameLab readers. (FrameLab’s paid subscribers will be invited to join a private chat and share feedback directly with us.)

In that spirit, I will soon publish a piece that exposes the shocking ideas of one of the main thinkers behind the so-called Gray ideology. I will send this piece to all FrameLab readers, so keep an eye out for it this week.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in being part of the conversation, here are some other readings to get you started:

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