“I hope my worst critics stay on Twitter too, because that’s what free speech means.” This tweet, published on Monday April 25 and signed in person by Elon Musk, left more than one speechless. Why buying the social network for $ 44 billion, what’s really on your mind new owner? Abuses are feared behind this financial operation.
The richest man on the planet, followed by 83 million people, intends to shock the blue bird. In the past, in fact, he has often regretted that Twitter moderators are leaving “Too far” And “intervening too much”, to remember The New York Times*. This is what he hastened to say again. in its press release* announcement of the acquisition: In his opinion, “freedom of word it is the foundation of a functioning democracy and Twitter is the digital public square where vital issues for the future of humanity are debated “. He will also be the only master on board who proposes to withdraw the social network from publicly traded companies in the United States. A decision that would allow the platform to escape any external control.
A few days after the completion of the acquisition, Marianne rightly described Elon Musk as a “absolutist of free speech” who “would unlock the potential of Twitter” leaving people “speak freely within the limits of the law”. “But since racist and anti-Semitic speeches or the dissemination of private information are legal in the United States, these kinds of remarks could be re-authorized on Twitter.notes the weekly.
In an interview with The gallery, LResearcher Olivier Ertzscheid, specialist in new technologies at the University of Nantes, can only confirm. «It must be understood that there are two concepts of freedom of expression. The first, rather American, is radical: freedom is first of all, which means that any point of view, whatever it may be, can be expressed in the public space. Including, therefore, a racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic point of view or the spread of ‘fake news’. The second conception, rather European and French, is that there are legal limits to what can be said in the public space “.
In other words, the free speech as Elon Musk should be “total”, summarizes the academician. The user must be able to write what he wants, without limits, regardless “Recent history has shown that social media algorithms are not neutral and can have a strong negative impact on democratic life, anywhere from the United States to India to Uyghurs in China or Europe.. “
Plus, Elon Musk hasn’t waited to take control of Twitter to say whatever’s on his mind. He jokes, provokes, criticizes, teases … No later than On Saturday 23 April the entrepreneur published a grossophobic photomontage comparing Bill Gates with a pregnant man. It was accompanied by the following caption: “In case you need to quickly stop an erection.”
Three weeks after the start of the war in Ukraine, he offered to do so challenge Russian President Vladimir Putin to fight “man to man”. In March 2020 he called “soften” the panic caused in people by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The coronavirus panic is stupid
– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 6, 2020
The list is still long. And “Elon Musk has never been banned, or even temporarily suspended from Twitter for all these comments”to remember The HuffPost. After all, why should it be? According to Tesla’s boss, “the the policies of social media platforms are good if the most extreme 10% of the left and right are equally unhappy “, he wrote in a tweet on April 19.
The policies of a social media platform are good if the most extreme 10% on the left and right are equally unhappy
– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 19, 2022
Concluding this deal, “Elon Musk has a political project in mind”Olivier Lascar, chief editor of the digital division of Science and future research. With Twitter, Elon Musk buys himself in reality “instrument of influence”, a weapon of mass communication which allows it“have the ear of politicians and maybe find friends” necessary for its development.
Starting with a certain Donald Trump. Could the former US president, banned for life from Twitter after the assault on the Washington Capitol in January 2021, reappear there? The interested party has ensured Fox News, Mondayyou he he would not return, despite the arrival of Elon Musk. However: the management ofa social network by the boss of Tesla and SpaceX worries the American political world. “This deal is dangerous for our democracy. Billionaires like Elon Musk abide by a different set of rules than everyone else, hoarding power for their own benefit. We need a wealth tax and strict rules so that big tech is responsible for his actions “for example, denounced Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren.
This agreement is dangerous for our democracy. Billionaires like Elon Musk play by a different set of rules than everyone else, amassing power for their own gain. We need a wealth tax and strong rules to hold Big Tech accountable.
—Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) April 25, 2022
Similar reaction from the president of the civil rights organization NAACP. “Mr. Musk, free speech is wonderful, hate speech unacceptable. Disinformation, disinformation and hate speech have NO PLACE on Twitter, warns Derrick Johnson in a press release*. Don’t allow [Donald Trump] to get back to the platform … Protecting our democracy is of the utmost importance, especially as we approach the midterm elections [en novembre]. Mr. Musk, lives are at stake, as is American democracy. “
In a another press release*, even the co-director of the NGO Free Press does not mince words. “Elon Musk himself used Twitter and other platforms to attack and silence other people. He spread misinformation about the COVID-19 and vaccines. He used Twitter to manipulate the markets and increase his already sizable fortune.
When he hears someone present Elon Musk as a great defender of liberties, Olivier Lascar tells this anecdote. “Dn the past, Elon Musk has already shown that freedom of expression has its limits in his conception, I would like to highlight the journalist, always on franceinfo. In SpaceX he is the only one who has the right to speak, which is his number 2. A surfer enjoyed referring to the flights of his private jet and posting them in the comments of Elon Musk’s tweets to demonstrate his virtuous behavior in terms of greenhouse gas emissions “. The story ended like this: the billionaire ended up blocking the Internet user on the social network.
* All links followed by an asterisk lead to English content.