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Future explosion of online hate? Elon Musk announces amnesty for blocked Twitter accounts and vacates European offices

Elon Musk’s tornado continues to rage on Twitter, and the last two decisions made by the American billionaire never cease to excite. While we learned last night that the social network’s new owner decided to reinstate the platform’s suspended accounts next week “unless they broke the law,” the Financial Times reported this Friday morning about the departure of the last employees of Twitter Europe. and that Elon Musk has therefore completely emptied the company’s European offices.

Musk wants freedom of speech in the name of democracy in the world

Elon Musk asked Twitter last Wednesday if Twitter should offer “a general amnesty to suspended accounts, as long as they haven’t broken the law and sent outrageous spam.”

The maneuver (a poll of this kind, representing a methodology of indeterminate representativeness) was a success for the overtly libertarian leader: of the approximately 3.16 million who took part, 72.4% said yes.

Based on this plebiscite (and fully returning, along the way, to his own encouraging words during the takeover of the social network), Elon Musk ruled:

“The people have spoken out, the amnesty begins next week. »

The billionaire accompanied his publication with the formula “Vox Populi, Vox Dei” (“The voice of the people is the voice of God”), an old medieval proverb then used for purposes that could not be more controversial, such as direct democracy, freedom of speech or mob justice, according to Historia magazine.

In addition, Elon Musk continues to position himself as the cantor of democracy in the world: he has repeatedly stated that he bought Twitter because he considers this platform a “digital public square” necessary for democracy in the world, and let it be known that he considers content moderation in Twitter is too restrictive.

Banned after storming the Capitol, Trump sees his account restored

The following Saturday, he announced rehab with the same facial expression after a similar poll of the account of former US President Donald Trump, banned from the social network after the storming of Capitol Hill in Washington in January 2021.

However, if the poll had been conducted with much more participation (15 million voters), the “victory” would have been much shorter than before (51.8% “yes”). The ex-president has not yet tweeted since his account was restored.

On November 7, Elon Musk, having thrown off his mask, openly took a position in American political life. urging his 114 million followers to vote Republican in the midterm elections to oppose the Democratic presidency of Joe Biden.

Leaked advertisers

With these many sudden decisions aimed at realizing his absolutist concept of freedom of expression, Elon Musk is raising concerns about the surge in abuse (misinformation, hate speech) on the social network.

And in fact, in the face of these publicity risks, many brands have already suspended their advertising spend on Twitter, which accounts for 90% of their revenue.

Precisely because this hemorrhage was looming, the libertarian mogul promised advertisers at the end of October, to reassure them, that he would not make any decisions about the restoration of accounts until the creation of “content moderation”. advice”.

But advertisers who promised to keep their costs under the condition that this board of moderators was created “violated the agreement,” he wrote on Tuesday to justify the return of accounts evicted from the platform.

Several major brands, including Volkswagen, General Motors and General Mills, have announced they are suspending ad spending on Twitter following its acquisition by Mr. Musk.

Child mortality, Elon Musk’s red line

However, Elon Musk seems to have a limit: he made it clear that he would not restore the account of the far-right American conspirator Alex Jones, who has been sued by the parents of victims of the Newton Sandy Hook (Connecticut) school shooting for several years. ) for asserting that the massacre was merely a staging of opponents of weapons.

After experiencing the death of his first child, he explained that he was “merciless towards anyone who uses the death of children for (acquisition of) financial, political or glorious gain.”

European regulators and control of online content

But the billionaire may have quit in retaliation, in part by wiping out his content moderation teams, or busied himself with vacating his offices in Brussels, the issue of content control doesn’t go away: European regulators have begun to remind him.

Twitter should indeed comply with European laws, including the Digital Services Act (DSA), which should oblige platforms to quickly remove illegal content and fight disinformation.

Arcom, the French media cop, on Monday reminded the California group of its “commitment” and asked it to “confirm” by Thursday that it is “capable” of handling it and “keep it informed of short-term developments.” human and technological resources dedicated to this.

(with AFP)

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