Macron seeks to convince Musk on Twitter content moderation

Emmanuel Macron et Elon Musk

Posted 3 Dec. 2022 at 8:57 amUpdated 5 Dec. 2022 at 9:41 am

On the occasion of his American tour, Emmanuel Macron went to New Orleans on Friday, a city emblematic of historical Franco-American ties, to celebrate the Francophonie and… meet Elon Musk. The interview had not been announced by the Elysée, and was kept away from the media.

Friendly exchanges between the Head of State and the boss of Twitter, who were pleased to have mentioned the moderation of content on Twitter, while the entrepreneur has so far taken decisions largely contrary to the exhortations of the president French and other European leaders.

“Transparent terms of use, significant reinforcement of content moderation and protection of freedom of expression: Twitter must make the effort to comply with European regulations”, indicated the Head of State in a series of tweets. . 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 Twitter 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 killings in Christchurch, New Zealand, whose images had remained. accessible online for several hours.

The businessman did not react on this point. He had initially promised a council of moderation, before deciding himself to restore many accounts, starting with that of the former American president, Donald Trump, banished after the assault on Capitol Hill in January 2021.

Moderate moderation

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 a New York Times article detailing the associations’ findings.

The network now chooses to rely on automation – robots – to moderate content, eliminating some manual revisions. A process that pushes more restrictions on use rather than the outright deletion of certain speeches. Twitter is also more aggressively restricting hashtags and search results conducive to abuse, such as child exploitation.

The account of the American rapper, Kanye West, has also been suspended for “incitement to violence”, after the publication of admiring remarks for Hitler. Elon Musk also says he is opposed to the return of Alex Jones, a far-right American conspirator, condemned for claiming that a massacre in a school was only a scene piloted by opponents of firearms.

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”. In other words, these are the personal limits of the entrepreneur in the face of freedom of expression.