COUNT ME among those celebrating Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter. Not because he’ll be able to fix it — the only way to do that would be to shut it down, which would make his $44 billion outlay hard to justify, even for a man of Musk’s means — but because it will be fascinating to watch him try. Meanwhile, the apoplexy this news is causing in progressive circles is very entertaining.

Musk’s intentions aren’t clear. Is he hoping to make a profit? Or does he expect to lose money in serving the public interest while amusing himself? He might not know; he might not care. Whatever the answers, it’s hard not to be impressed by what he’s already achieved and his astonishing appetite for new challenges. I, for one, am looking forward to what happens next.

His comments so far raise many questions. He says Twitter is “kind of the de facto town square” where people should be able to speak freely “within the bounds of the law.” The implication is that he’ll reverse some the platform’s decisions to suppress comments it deems harmful and/or allow certain controversial speakers, notably former President Donald Trump, back on the platform. This is the prospect that has many people who call themselves liberal rending their garments.

As it stands, the “town square” principle doesn’t really work. In a truly public space, protections for free speech are far-reaching. They permit speech so dishonest or disgusting that it would repel not just political partisans but all decent people regardless of their ideological attachments. These protections also forbid prior restraint. Twitter isn’t a public space in that sense, so it retains the right to control its content and disqualify users. But the point is that the great majority of its users will want it to control content beyond what is called for by “the bounds of the law.” Does Musk really want to ignore the great majority of his new customers?

What’s more plausible — and would be more valuable — is the commitment to wider diversity of opinion that Musk says he wants, combined with tools to give users more control. Vivek Ramaswamy and Jed Rubenfeld make some good suggestions. For instance, they say, Twitter could keep its existing offensive-speech protocols but let users opt out of them. If you want to see what Twitter deems hateful, or sexually explicit, or whatever, turn the respective filters off. Algorithms using “block this kind of content” buttons could refine and automate the process while still allowing users to choose.

User-enabled moderation of content would be better than the slanted top-down policing of news and opinion that Twitter has sometimes engaged in. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t solve the underlying problem — one by no means confined to Twitter: In the US, at least, there is no longer any such thing as a trusted authority.

Top-down moderation to filter out falsehoods would be a true service if the moderators were disinterested and authoritative, and seen to be. But in the US, political polarization has gone so far as to make this impossible. Yes, the lack of trust often arises from the political right’s paranoia and instinct to ignore disobliging facts. But this instinct isn’t confined to conservatives and other deplorables.

Many — let’s call them legacy moderators — have taken it upon themselves to defend Truth as opposed to truth. Academic experts, reporters, fact-checkers and the like are much to blame for knowingly or otherwise indulging their own political biases. They police opinions, not facts, undermining their own authority.

An Impossible Twitter — one that was open to all opinions and equipped with trusted and disinterested fact-checkers — would be better than the platform Musk just bought. But even that wouldn’t make it a public good. Its biggest and irremediable defect is built into its very business model. It is a platform optimized for expostulation not conversation, reflex not deliberation, disdain not civility. It takes what’s worst about modern American politics and amplifies it.

As a recovering user, I found that, on balance, Twitter diminished my respect for people I’d previously held in high regard, making it professionally counterproductive. In my dreams, Twitter just goes away.

The saddest thing for a liberal — an actual liberal — such as myself is to have witnessed its success. After all, it succeeded by giving users what they want. On the other hand, it means I’m not worried about the harm Musk might do. Disrupt it as much as you can, Elon. We have nothing to lose but our tweets.