Science

Suspense around the future of content moderation on Musk’s Twitter

Tension and anxiety reign in the correspondence between Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter, and many users who are eager to understand how he intends to make his vision of freedom of expression on the influential platform a reality.

On Wednesday, the multi-billionaire assured that accounts that had been banned from the social network would not be reinstated until “a few weeks,” time to kick off a “clear process.” Thus, he ruled out the hypothesis that Donald Trump will return to Twitter a few days before the decisive US elections.

Read also: Elon Musk announces Twitter certification for $8 a month

The former US president was ousted from the podium shortly after the storming of the Capitol in January 2021 on charges of calling his supporters to violence. He has since stated that he will never return to Twitter after launching his own Truth Social network in a confidential hearing. But many believe he would be tempted to find his tens of millions of followers on the platform that underpinned his political communication. However, in May, Elon Musk calculated that this expulsion represented “an extremely morally bad and insane decision.”

See also: Once Upon a Time in America: When Elon Musk Invites Himself to an Interim Campaign

The libertarian entrepreneur advocates an absolutist vision of free speech. But since Thursday, he’s been blowing around implementation, promising some that the network won’t become uninhabitable and others to end “censorship.”

“Mixed Signals”

Elon Musk wants to create a content moderation board. He also claimed to have spoken to several minority rights NGOs about “how Twitter will continue to fight hate and harassment.”

“It sends mixed signals,” says Suzanne Nossel, director of Pen America, an association to protect free speech. “He understands that (the task) is more difficult than it seems at first glance.”

A collective of nearly 50 associations to defend democracy or fight disinformation have called on the biggest advertisers on Twitter (including Coca-Cola, Google and Disney) to threaten Elon Musk to stop all ads online if he is ever “liquidated.” content moderation. General Motors has already announced that it will temporarily suspend its spending on the platform.

On Wednesday, Elon Musk asked in a poll of his 113 million followers whether advertisers should “support free speech” or “political correctness.” Several associations for the protection of minorities, fearing a renewed abuse (harassment, racism, disinformation), are calling for greater control over the application.

Read also: What will Elon Musk do with his Twitter toy? Four questions to understand

“Hate speech under the guise of +freedom of expression+ is unacceptable,” African-American singer Toni Braxton tweeted as she announced she was leaving the platform. “Twitter is no longer a safe place for me, my sons and other minorities.”

For some ultra-conservatives, by contrast, liberalization is not moving fast enough. Columnist Benny Johnson is calling on Elon Musk to fire Twitter executives who censored certain topics in order to “restore public trust.”

“An attack from both the left and the right is a good sign,” the eccentric leader joked.

Disinformation

“He is convinced that the speeches of conservatives are being censored on Twitter, while research proves that this is not the case,” notes Suzanne Nossel. She hopes he will reconsider this false assumption and understand “why we value freedom of expression” such as the ability to dialogue, persuade and come up with interesting ideas.

“When the public square is flooded with misinformation, when you can no longer tell right from wrong, and when people pull away because they can’t find reliable information…then the benefits of freedom of expression disappear,” she elaborates.

In principle, Elon Musk seems to agree with this approach. “Our goal is to make Twitter the most trusted source of information on Earth, regardless of political affiliation,” he said Wednesday, praising Birdwatch, Twitter’s program that allows you to duplicate contentious messages out of context written by independent authors. participants.

So the White House on Wednesday retracted a tweet praising Joe Biden’s rise in pensions and a background note mentioning the role played by the 1972 pension law. But on Sunday, Elon Musk floated a conspiracy theory about the attack on the husband of Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democrats in Congress. He subsequently deleted his tweet.

Read also: Elon Musk denies false claims about Nancy Pelosi’s husband, then backs off

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