The interview lasted an hour during which the two men spoke about moderation and freedom of expression on Twitter, with the French president calling on the CEO to “make the effort to comply with European regulations”.
Emmanuel Macron and Elon Musk welcomed Friday having 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 all about. This afternoon, I met Elon Musk and we had a clear and sincere discussion”, wrote Emmanuel Macronon a state visit to the United States.
The interview took place in New Orleans and lasted one hour. It had not been previously announced by the Élysée, and stayed away from the media.
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 Musksaying he was “impatient” about “exciting projects in France”.
Freedom of expression “implies responsibilities and limits”
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.
“Elon Musk has confirmed Twitter’s participation in the Christchurch Call. 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 killing in Christchurch, New Zealand, the images of which remained accessible online for several hours.
The businessman did not react on this point. He had initially promised a content moderation board responsible for all major decisions, but he himself finally decided to restore many accounts, starting with that of former US President Donald Trump, banned after the attack on 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. “I think we have to take the subject head on, I am in favor of the exact opposite, more regulation. We do it (in France, editor’s note) and we do it at European level”, he said. he said Thursday during an interview with ABC.
Freedom of expression “implies responsibilities and limits. You cannot go out and make racist or anti-Semitic remarks, it is a point that it is important for me to defend”, he added.
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 over the past 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”.
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”, after in particular 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 “without mercy towards anyone who would use the deaths of children to (gain) financial, political or fame gains”.
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 protect our children better online!”