Chances are you now who Elon Musk is, but do you know who Nina Jankowicz is, too? Both of these characters bookended last week, which was a very illuminating one when it comes to the freedom of speech.

Yes, Musk bought Twitter. World’s richest man buys social media platform — for many this is a dog bites man story. Yet in the cloistered kombucha breweries of Silicon Valley there were actually tears.

I first encountered the 33-year-old Jankowicz on that bar on Facebook that suggests people you might know. Because of the Eastern European surname name and number of common friends, I actually clicked and saw she is an “expert on disinformation,” which is where my curiosity ended.

That is, until I read that the Biden administration appointed her to run a board within the Department of Homeland Security to combat disinformation, or misinformation, or whatever the fashionable term of the moment may be.

You don’t have to be an Orwell fan to smell a rat here.

Making her debut to wider audiences on Tik-Tok, Jankowicz encouraged people, through song no less, to think of her as the Mary Poppins of misinformation. That hardly puts my mind at ease. More troubling still is the number of Americans today who actually think our country needs a truth nanny.

Based on her past performance, peddling now discredited narratives for partisan effect, I don’t sleep any better knowing Nina’s now policing speech. So flat-footed was the rollout of her new board that White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki first claimed never to have heard of it and then a day later tried to lay blame for the creation of the dubious board at the feet of Donald Trump.

Jankowicz will, Psaki elaborated, be monitoring how misinformation travels through “certain communities.”

So flat-footed was the rollout of this arguably unconstitutional government entity that one has to assume it was a knee-jerk reaction as opposed to a carefully developed plan. It was perhaps a reaction to losing control of Twitter.

In my Washington days, I knew an aide to former FBI Director James Comey who went to the private sector to take a job at Twitter. Was this an odd career trajectory? You bet. Perhaps the sanctimoniousness she learned from her government gig was considered an asset — who knows? I wonder if Musk will keep her on.

Conservatives rejoicing about the Musk/Twitter deal are emoting before the facts are in, which isn’t very conservative. Some may hope he’ll allow Trump back on the platform, but others — myself included — have become increasingly worried about free speech in general and see any change as potentially positive.

Because he’s the world’s richest man, I’m going to guess Musk is more tuned into markets than ideology. Twitter is an under-performing company, and part of the reason it’s not reaching its potential may have something to do with someone’s notion of a social purpose being thrust onto it.

Why did Twitter, and Facebook, too, for that matter, suppress sharing of the New York Post story on Hunter Biden’s laptop before the 2020 election? It was because they decided it was in the country’s best interests to do so. That’s right: Allies on the East and West coasts sat down and made that call for the rest of us.

There’s nothing new to that. The arrogance with which it happens every day was on display recently when the Aspen Institute’s task force on disinformation co-chair Anne Applebaum responded dismissively to a question about why news about the laptop was censored. “I don’t find it an interesting story,” she said with a huff.

The idea that Applebaum, Jankowicz and even more overt political actors start putting blue check marks on approved speech is abhorrent to the idea of democracy, which, from the other sides of their mouths, they keep insisting is in mortal peril.

Oliver Wendell Holmes put it better than anyone else I’ve read when he described free speech as something that competes openly in the marketplace of ideas. Bad speech, like rotten fruit, will be rejected in such a scenario. By such a construct, society must collectively make the call on what is acceptable — not just the elites of the moment.

You know what’s the closest thing to immortal in Washington? That would be a newly created government entity. Free speech isn’t immortal, or even guaranteed necessarily. As the hideously misinformed Russians today may still remember from the late ’90s and early ’aughts, it has a way of slipping away unless you fight for it.

Sam Patten is a recovering political consultant who was raised in Knox County and worked for Maine’s last three Republican senators.