Emmanuel Macron and Elon Musk welcomed this Friday, December 2, having discussed the moderation of content on Twitter. Until now, the entrepreneur had taken decisions largely contrary to the recommendations of the French president and other European leaders.
The interview lasted an hour, away from the media. On a visit to the United States, Emmanuel Macron went to New Orleans to discuss, with Elon Musk, several questions relating to the moderation of content published on the social network, a month after its acquisition by the most rich in the world.
I talk about it here, on Twitter, because that’s what it’s all about. This afternoon I met @elonmusk and we had a clear and sincere discussion:
—Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) December 3, 2022
Already on November 30, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, told Elon Musk that there was “still a lot of work to do”. Twitter will have to “significantly strengthen content moderation and resolutely tackle misinformation,” he added, according to a report of their telephone conversation.
Initially, the businessman had ensured to set up a content moderation council, responsible for all major decisions. An initiative that ultimately did not succeed. However, at the same time, Elon Musk had put an end to the fight against false information linked to Covid, a “big problem” for the French president.
“I think we have to take the subject head on. I am in favor of the exact opposite, more regulation, ”said Emmanuel Macron during an interview with the ABC channel on December 1. “We do it in France and at European level”.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 11, 2022
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”, underlined Emmanuel Macron. “We will work with Twitter to improve the protection of children online. Elon Musk confirmed it to me. Let’s better protect our children online!”
A controversial takeover
Elon Musk’s absolutist view of free speech worries many users, authorities and advertisers, who fear a surge of hate and misinformation. In the wake of the takeover of the platform for 44 billion dollars, Elon Musk had laid off more than half of his employees, and the content moderation teams had not been spared.
The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX had also, very quickly, promised the reinstatement of accounts banned from the platform, such as that of Donald Trump, deleted after the assault on Capitol Hill in January 2021.
And 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.
Conclusions that the billionaire denied, saying instead that the number of times tweets containing hate speech had been read by users “continued to decline”. Recently, he also clarified his personal limits to freedom of expression.
The account of American rapper Kanye West has been suspended for “incitement to violence”, after the publication of admiring remarks towards Hitler.