Elon Musk, Twitter and the European backlash

This Tweet from Thierry BretonThe European Commissioner for the Internal Market reflects the influence he wants to have in building the European Union’s version of Twitter. This is one of the many reactions of European personalities to the moderate policy of the new leader. The social network has been at the center of news and controversy since Elon Musk’s effective takeover of Twitter. In question, a wave of complete freedom “Made in Elon Musk” Undermining European rules, especially freedom of expression and press.

Libertarian-influenced Elon Musk wants to turn Twitter into “Twitter,” in his own words.a common digital public square where a wide range of beliefs can be discussed in a healthy manner without resorting to violence“. This view is at odds with that of the European Union, as Emmanuel Macron reminds us During the American show Good morning America : “Freedom of expression and democracy are based on respect and public order. You can protest, you can express your opinion freely, you can write whatever you want, but there are responsibilities and limitations.“. Thus, the heart of the debate is focused on the leadership of Twitter, which represents a source of anxiety for the old continent.

Now automated moderation policy

4,400 to 5,500 after breaking the service provider contracts, which focuses on social network moderation among other things, remains today Less than 2000 moderators around the world. Elon Musk prefers automated moderation to address hateful content on the site. So this content will be allowed, provided it is already available in the individuals news feed, only on their profile, and therefore demonetizedetc.

The era of Musk also marks the end of an era moderation policy The fight against misinformation about the Covid-19 crisis and vaccines. It should be recalled that earlier on Twitter it was forbidden to use the services for sharing false or misleading information related to Covid-19 that could cause harm.

In addition, around 12,000 previously banned accounts have been reinstated, with another 50,000 banned accounts likely to follow. Among them can be mentioned accounts of white supremacists, neo-nazis, or Donald Trump’s account. All of these recovered accounts were able to benefit from subscription access “Twitter Blue” allows to increase the ability to see.

Automated moderation that already shows weaknesses

This moderation cocktail quickly showed its limits. according to New York Times, hateful content is already rampant on the platform. research conducted by center for Fighting Digital Hate This shows an upward trend: In the first week under Elon Musk, we recorded 26,228 Tweets and re-tweets that mentioned the word N*gger (which translates to: “niggers”), i.e. multiplication by 3 in 2022; 60% increase in anti-Semitic messages; 4,000 homophobic tweets per day, a 58% increase. Terrorist content is also increasing. according to Global Network on Extremism and TechnologyIn the early days of Twitter under Elon Musk, 450 new Islamic State accounts were discovered, a 69% increase.

Such proliferation of terrorist content on the platform, as well as reduced moderation, could undermine Twitter’s commitment to combating such content. In effect, the rule he said “TCO” Effective from 7 June 2022 (“online terrorist content”), it requires online platforms to remove terrorist content within one hour or block it in the European Union. Failure to do so can result in fines of up to 4% of the company’s worldwide turnover.

There is Elon Musk refuted these figures: that is why, “Hate speech views (the number of times a tweet has been seen) continue to decrease, despite a significant increase in users! Negativity should and will be less accessible than positivity.”. He adds: “Hate speech makes up less than 0.1% of what’s seen on Twitter.”

The European Union is under pressure

Thierry Breton is responsible for the implementation Digital Services Actexchanged video conferences with Elon Musk to remind him basic principlesand this arrangement.

The first principle is that Twitter should contribute to the fight against illegal content by providing a tool to facilitate self-reporting. He will have to cooperate with that “reliable flagbearers.”, whose role is to provide expertise on report content. The second principle is the transparency of the moderation policy, with a commitment to create an internal complaints handling system that allows users to challenge the sanction from the platform. The operation of algorithms and their use for targeting advertising content must be known to users and the European Commission. Finally, the third principle is active participation in reducing the risks of disinformation and preventing crises: rules of conduct, promotion of verified information, removal of accounts carrying disinformation, etc.

The result of this exchange between Thierry Breton and Elon Musk gave hopeElon Musk will follow the DSA. A stress test will be conducted at Twitter’s headquarters in early 2023 to assess its suitability.

Emmanuel Macron reminds Elon Musk of his commitments

During his visit to the USA, they were able to meet the president of the republic and the leader of Twitter in the state of Louisiana. Elon Musk says so confirmed Twitter’s involvement in the Christchurch Appeal, a movement of governments, businesses and NGOs to combat the spread of terrorist and extremist content online. By participating in it please call, Twitter is committed to promptly removing terrorist content and verifying that algorithms do not suggest extremist content to users. Elon Musk also promised the institution tools more effective at verifying the age of users, detecting sexual predators, and combating cyberbullying.

Case Elon Jet : from enhanced freedom to censorship

Elon Musk’s latest decision raises great concerns about the future of the blue bird in Europe: Elon Musk has suspended several accounts of American journalists belonging to CNN, the New York Times or the Washington Post. Elon Musk’s jet routes. Account Elon Jet It used public data to automatically locate Elon Musk’s jet. Elon Musk justified these suspensions by saying that he feared for his and his family’s safety “doxing (distribution of personal information about a person on the Internet without their consent).

Elon Musk, who was initially suspended for seven days, once again appealed to the subscribers of his Twitter account to choose the suspension period. Finally, the Twittersphere has spoken and Accounts that posted the location will be unsuspended. So the recovery of accounts should happen quickly.

Still, Elon Musk’s decision has caused outrage both within the European Union and at the international level. The intersection of the red line is close. Blocking journalists is an obstacle to both press freedom and media pluralism.

The spokesperson of the UN Secretary General described these suspensions as follows “dangerous precedent”. Moreover, the European Union is unanimous: there is “Problem with Twitter” according to The German foreign minister, who also believes that “freedom of the press cannot be easily switched on and off“.

In addition, there is a vice president of the European Commission qualified this decision “disturbing” and invited Elon Musk not to switch “Red Line” under penalty of penalty. Besides Digital Services Act The Vice President, who protects fundamental rights on online platforms, also applies Media Freedom Acta European text that is still under development and is more legal given the context.

This draft regulation among other things, it provides for the protection of editorial independence, the protection of media pluralism, and the prohibition of the use of spyware against the media. Finally, protecting online media content requires very large platforms to justify the decision to retract press articles when there is no misinformation.

in cooperation with Master in Electronic Media Law at Aix-Marseille University 2The Highlighters brings you a selection of articles from November 2022 to January 2023. You can see more articles on the website. Institute for Research and Studies in Information and Cultural Law (IREDIC)

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