A Bay Area man is battling online hate speech while simultaneously trolling Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk, by projecting messages on an exterior wall of the firm’s SF headquarters.
A self-described projection activist, Alan Marling first beamed messages on the firm's Market Street tower in 2017, when Donald Trump and “the company amplified lies and hate speech,” Marling said.
Trump was later banned from the platform after refusing to accept the results of the 2020 election and “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” Twitter said.
Marling has been outside the company’s offices again in the wake of Musk’s takeover. As recently as Monday night, he projected the message, “Free hate speech,” on the wall with an arrow pointing to Twitter’s sign.
‘Proof Elon an idiot’
Other messages Marling has blazoned across the office include, “proof Elon an idiot,” “Megaphone of Hate,” “free monetized speech,” “Elon Musk: Mediocre manboy,” and “#StopToxicTwitter.”
Marling is also crowdsourcing your suggestions on what to display on the building next via Reddit.
Musk’s new reign at the company has already seen huge staff cuts, with changes to moderation and verification methods stoking security fears and concerns about an increase of disinformation—fears Marling shares.
“I used to enjoy Twitter as a way to connect with friends and build community over great distances,” Marling said. “Now I avoid the site.”
Marling said that if hate speech and white supremacist conspiracy theories are allowed on Twitter, it could drive out people of color, minorities and women.
“Given Elon Musk’s sacking of Twitter moderators, it would appear he wants the social media site to become a megaphone of hate, hostile to anyone who isn’t an overprivileged white man,” Marling added, who said he’s been met with “congratulations online and thumbs-up in the street” for his projections.
Marling believes that social media companies wish to be seen as public forums and cultivators of free speech, but says they are in fact private companies, without moral compasses, each trying to turn a profit.
Activists are now encouraging advertisers to pull away from the platform. Musk said in a tweet he is suing activists for this.
Twitter has been contacted for comment.