December 6, 2023 5:44 pm

Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover (Full Documentary) | FRONTLINE


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Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover (Full Documentary) | FRONTLINE


FRONTLINE traces Elon Musk’s long and often troubled relationship with Twitter, following his journey from being one of the platform’s most provocative users to becoming its owner.

Elon Musk completed his acquisition of the social media company formerly called Twitter nearly a year ago. At a time of intense polarization in the U.S. and worldwide, the move placed the richest man in the world in charge of one of the world’s most important platforms for news and political debate — and also put Musk squarely at the center of an ongoing debate about the limits of free speech and the spread of lies online.

This two-hour documentary from the team behind “Amazon Empire” and “The Facebook Dilemma” pulls back the curtain on the influential social media platform’s inner workings both before and after Musk’s takeover. In extraordinary, in-depth interviews, former Twitter employees give remarkable first-person accounts of how controversial content moderation decisions were made in the pre-Musk era, including the banning of former President Donald Trump after Jan. 6, 2021.

Former Twitter employees also give first-person accounts of the changes Musk made inside Twitter after buying the company, shedding new light on questions about free speech, hate speech and safety that have intensified during his tenure at the helm of the platform. “Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover” probes the profound impact Musk’s decisions have had on politics, speech and culture.

“Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover” is a FRONTLINE production with Left/Right Docs. The director and correspondent is James Jacoby. The writers and producers are Anya Bourg and James Jacoby. The co-producers are Christina Avalos and Chris O’Coin. The senior producers are Dan Edge and Frank Koughan. The editor-in-chief and executive producer of FRONTLINE is Raney Aronson-Rath.

Here’s what others had to say:

It’s amazing how both sides can look at the same thing, like the Twitter Files, and come to vastly different conclusions.

Very thought-provoking. There’s a storyline here about how the speed and reach of internet media outstrips the time needed to fact-check and think—by the time that happens the damage is done. Love to see Isaacson’s comments, I respect his work. Everyone—maintain your independent thoughts.

The narrative around how Twitter was handled and the reality of how those systems were implemented are vastly different. From a users perspective, Twitter more than any other social media was Who you followed and not about what some panel of people or algorithms thought you wanted to see. And while most of this gets boiled down to right vs left, for non political people on the app, the evolution of twitter into an arbiter of right and wrong ruined the purity of the site. And these people are out of their minds thinking they had no bias in their systems. The fear comes from the other side having the gun, but their fears are no different from those the other side once held.

Bravo to this man reporting for Frontline. One of the most unbiased episodes I’ve seen in a very long time. I was shocked how much he pressed the political left / twitter censorship aspect and not just call it a conspiracy theory or “misinformation”.

Musk has open sourced the code for twitter but the old twitter says they are worried about what they are doing behind the scenes. What do you think everyone else felt when the old twitter was in control and nothing was transparent?

I don’t have a dog in the fight of either side, but I appreciate the reporting that was done for this. I honestly cannot say whether the reporting is leaning either way which is the highest compliment I can give. I feel more informed to make my own opinion as a citizen based on this reporting which is the highest praise. Thank you!

Frontline nails it again with making a well detailed and honestly balanced piece. Was concerned at first since some of the people they were interviewing salt on are generally so one sided in their own opinion-Ed pieces. Good work showing both sides and good to see from both sides some of those interviewed admitting there were failures they were a part of and things they would have done differently. I also Wasn’t sure there was enough to tell since him taking over to warrant two hours but well done.

The Donald Trump tweet that was supposedly interpreted as a “call for violence” is ridiculous. It’s obvious only people who suffer from Trump derangement syndrome had interpreted it in such a way.

great doc — too much yoel lmao — but good coverage on everything — the impulsivity, elon’s family and drama with other twitter accounts, the bad things, and the actual real valid problems like twitter files with free speech denial.

This is a great piece. It’s not always framed fairly and it must be viewed through a skeptical lense, but it’s comprehensive, informative, and entertaining.

Thank you for an informative report on Twitters last chapter.
In my opinion there is too little emphasis on the huge mistake the media uniformly did in reference to Hunter’s laptop. It puts into question – despite all the believably good intentions ex employees of twitter had – the proper functioning of the US information system.

This doc evoked that quote for me, “With great power comes great responsibility.” again and again.
The final statement about Musk really got me thinking about the huge effort I put into teaching my kids about following the rules. And it occurs to me maybe the main reason I do that is because I’m not a billionaire or even rich, we’re just an ordinary working class family, like the vast majority of people. If my kids don’t learn to follow the rules there will be terrible and unavoidable consequences.

Great documentary! This is constructive criticism meant in no way to attack the leading interviewer, but I can’t help and notice that they seem a bit emotionally malleable. The aggressiveness of their questioning seems to be affected by the ability of the interviewee to present themselves as a victim.

What has changed post twitter acquisition by Elon musk is that twitter has stopped becoming news itself ; instead started becoming just a platform for sharing opinions. Now one can choose and decide the opinion for himself.

PBS, you are the GOAT of documentaries, thank you for making them easily available on YouTube for international fans too.

Biggest problem I have with this documentary is the majority of those interviewed lean to one side. I imagine it being PBS the people who this documentary concerned were not going to be willing to participate which leaves a gap. I was surprised that PBS at least tried to make it balanced.

There’s a LOT of excellent reporting here, but WOW do you seem to have gone in harder on the previous Twitter content moderators than anyone else. The questions you asked Roth & Co were great! They were fair! Your pushing back was great! And then the new Musk regime, new CEO, Taibbi seem to have been handled with relative kid gloves. The same fair, dogged pursuit of answers would have been great to see applied to them as well.

I’ve always felt Frontline always leaned a bit left with these documentaries. However, this was I believe reported right down the middle. Well done, very informative. I stayed engaged with the video from beginning to end. I’m hopeful to see more videos like this in future.

Great documentary. It’s definitely critical to remember that the reason Elon bought twitter wasn’t because of “free speech” or “preserving democracy”. He got sued by the twitter shareholders in Delaware court and the judge ruled he had to go forward with the deal.

Opinion pieces don’t necessarily reflect the position of our news site but of our Opinion writers.

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