Emmanuel Macron and Elon Musk welcomed Friday, December 2 to have exchanged on the moderation of content on Twitter while the entrepreneur has so far taken decisions largely contrary to the exhortations of the French president and other European leaders. “I talk about it here, on Twitter, because that’s what it’s about. This afternoon, I met Elon Musk and we had a clear and sincere discussion,” wrote Emmanuel Macron, on a state visit to the United States.
He also said he discussed with the Tesla co-founder “future green industrial projects, such as the production of electric vehicles and batteries”. “It was an honor to see you again”, replied Elon Musk, saying he was “impatient” about “exciting projects in France”. The richest man in the world bought the influential platform at the end of October for 44 billion dollars. Its absolutist vision of freedom of expression worries many users, authorities and advertisers, who fear a surge of hatred and misinformation.
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Freedom of expression “implies responsibilities and limits”
“Elon Musk has confirmed Twitter’s participation in the Christchurch appeal. Terrorist and violent content has no place anywhere, ”detailed the French president, referring to an initiative launched by several states and NGOs in 2019, after the killings in Christchurch, New Zealand, whose images had remained. accessible online for several hours. The businessman did not react on this point.
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He had initially promised a content moderation council responsible for all major decisions, but he himself finally decided to restore many accounts, starting with that of ex-US president Donald Trump, banned after the attack. of the Capitol in January 2021. He also put an end to the fight against false information linked to Covid, which is a “big problem”, according to Emmanuel Macron.
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“I think we have to tackle the subject head-on, I am in favor of the exact opposite, more regulation. We are doing it [en France, NDLR] and we do it at European level,” he said in an interview with ABC on Thursday. Freedom of expression “implies responsibilities and limits. You cannot go out and make racist or anti-Semitic remarks, it is a point that is important to me to defend, ”he added.
A sharp increase in hate messages over the past month
Already on Wednesday, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, had told Elon Musk that there was “still a huge amount of work to be done”. Twitter will have to “significantly strengthen the moderation of content […] and resolutely tackle misinformation,” he added, according to an account of their telephone exchange.
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The new owner of Twitter has laid off more than half of the employees of the Californian group, and the content moderation teams have not been spared. According to several NGOs, including the Center for Countering Digital Hate, racist, homophobic, misogynistic and anti-Semitic messages have “shockingly” increased on the platform for a month.
“Completely false,” Elon Musk tweeted in response to an article by the New York Times detailing the conclusions of the associations. He claimed that the number of times tweets containing hate speech are seen by users “continue to decline”.
“Let’s better protect our children online”
The libertarian entrepreneur recently clarified his personal limits on free speech. The account of American rapper Kanye West has been suspended for “incitement to violence”, in particular after the publication of admiring remarks for Hitler.
And Elon Musk is opposed to the return of Alex Jones, the far-right American conspirator convicted of claiming that a school massacre was just a staged show by opponents of guns. Having experienced the death of his first child, the multi-billionaire explained that he was “merciless towards anyone who uses the deaths of children to (gain) financial, political or fame gains”.
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Emmanuel Macron also concluded his series of tweets by declaring: “We will work with Twitter to improve the protection of children online. Elon Musk confirmed it to me today. Let’s better protect our children online! »