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Twitter CEO Elon Musk's ownership of the social media company has been marked by an increase in racist abuse and rhetoric.POOL New/Reuters

Since Elon Musk spent US$44-billion – a small portion of his wealth – to purchase Twitter, organizations monitoring online discourse have found some disturbing trends on the social-media site.

The appearance of slurs against Black people on Twitter has tripled. Against gay men, they’ve increased nearly 40 per cent. Against Jews, there’s been a jump as well.

After the upheaval of the Trump years, there’ve been some signs the United States might be starting to normalize. But Mr. Musk is a disruptor. He’s anything but normal. He risks taking the culture wars and media madness to new heights.

A brilliant entrepreneur, the beaming-faced innovator is a strange force, entranced by the Great Beyond and coming at you with the sci-fi countenance of someone who hails from there. Most big tech giants have stayed in the background. Not Mr. Musk. The man with Mars in his sights doesn’t think small.

With his new media perch, he has become a major political player. Calling himself a “free speech absolutist,” he’s bent on – as seen with his involvement in the Hunter Biden controversy – exposing media faultlines and making it more accountable.

Speaking of what many regard as the greatest newspaper in America, Mr. Musk says: “It is tragic how far The New York Times has fallen – basically just boring ... far-left brainwashing at this point.”

On taking over Twitter, the same Mr. Musk lifted bans on many accounts whose posts had been deemed too offensive for the site. That was no doubt a welcome signal for those wishing to spew prejudice and hate and extremism on his platform.

With his attacks on journalism, Mr. Musk is picking up where media basher Donald Trump left off. Republicans are delighted to have Mr. Musk on board. He’s already revealed his choice for president in 2024, and it’s not Mr. Trump. It’s Ron DeSantis, the Florida Governor who’s partaking in many a beatdown of mainstream journalism himself.

Mr. Musk believes there is too much censorship and that the country needs even stricter adherence to First Amendment speech freedoms. The counterargument is that since the advent of the internet, free speech has expanded exponentially. And in tandem, given the unparalleled degree of disinformation crowding the public square, the country has fallen prey to more divisiveness and polarization than anyone can remember since the Civil War.

Mr. Musk hasn’t been a regular Republican supporter. He voted for Barack Obama and for Joe Biden. Back then, his support didn’t mean all that much. But now, with his big new toy in tow, it certainly does – the Hunter Biden brouhaha being a prime example.

To recap, for years Republicans have been obsessed with controversies surrounding the sleazebag behaviour of the current U.S. President’s son, and whether Mr. Biden Sr. broke ethical boundaries in helping his offspring’s cause. Compared with Mr. Trump’s myriad transgressions, it’s pint-sized stuff. But in releasing in-house Twitter files regarding Hunter Biden on the weekend, Mr. Musk gave the story new legs.

He wants to show that the Democrats were in collusion with previous Twitter executives to block more incriminating Biden material from appearing on the platform. But the first batch of files didn’t contain much that was new.

Republicans are right to condemn Twitter for suppressing a New York Post story last year revealing the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop. They wrongly believed it might have involved a Russian hacking operation.

Federal agents have reportedly obtained sufficient evidence to charge Hunter Biden with tax crimes and a false statement related to a gun purchase. But these problems do not involve his father.

Kevin McCarthy, the soon-to-be House Majority leader, is sufficiently outraged from the contents of the Musk document drop. He compared the censorship that went on at Twitter with that of the Chinese Communist Party and alleged that the big tech companies “now have become arms of the Democratic Party.”

Mr. McCarthy will be appointing a congressional committee to investigate. Media corruption, though not at Fox News mind you, will become a major focus of the Republicans who feel, especially with Mr. Musk on board, that they can benefit from the freedom-of-speech issue.

The upshot will see the American media even more politicized and weaponized. Reputation for journalistic objectivity is increasingly fading, leaving the country short on benchmarks for knowing what’s real and what isn’t.

Great societies develop high standards. High-quality media is essential in achieving and maintaining these standards. Unfiltered and unregulated social-media platforms do the opposite by lowering standards, and destabilizing the cultural environment. But while checks and balances are badly needed, the world’s richest man is not about to provide them. He thinks we’re being brainwashed by The New York Times.