August 8, 2022
Elon Musk’s conflicting plans for Twitter highlight the tough challenges ahead for him

On Tuesday, Elon Musk said he would reverse the Twitter ban of former President Donald Trump, who was booted for inciting violence at the US Capitol in January 2021, should he be paid $44 billion (about Rs 3,39,870 crore). Must be successful in getting a social platform. ,

But a day earlier, the Tesla CEO also said he agreed with the European Union’s new Digital Services Act, a law that requires big tech companies like Twitter, Google and Facebook parent Meta to post illegal or harmful content on their platforms. Police will be needed more strictly for this. Hate speech and propaganda.

The apparent contradiction underscores the learning curve waiting for the world’s richest man after tackling the complexity of Twitter’s content moderation across dozens of languages ​​and cultures. Twitter has to comply with the laws and regulations of many countries, taking into account the feedback from advertisers, users, politicians and others.

“He certainly wouldn’t be the first to say, ‘I’m going to do this’ and then realized that either they really don’t want to do this or their users don’t want them to do it.” David Green, director of civil liberties at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Speaking virtually at an auto conference, the Tesla CEO said Twitter’s ban on Trump was a “morally bad decision” and “stupid in the extreme”.

“I think it was a mistake because it isolated a large part of the country and ultimately did not voice Donald Trump,” Musk said. He said he prefers temporary suspensions and other narrowly tailored punishments for content that is illegal or otherwise “destructive to the world.”

Earlier in the day, Musk met with the EU’s internal market commissioner Thierry Breton to discuss the bloc’s online rules. Thierry told The Associated Press that he told Musk how the EU aims to maintain free speech, as well as ensure that whatever is illegal “will be forbidden in the digital space,” Musk said. That “completely agrees” with him.

In a video Breton tweeted late Monday, Musk said the two had a “great discussion” and said he agreed to the Digital Services Act, which is expected to get final approval later this year. It threatens Twitter and other Big Tech firms with billions in fines if they don’t police their platforms.

Twitter shares fell 1.5 percent on Tuesday to $ 47.24 (about Rs 3,600) per share. That’s 13 percent lower than Musk’s offer of $54.20 (about Rs 4,100) per share on April 14, a reflection of Wall Street’s concerns that the deal may still fall through. Musk insisted Tuesday that it is “definitely not a done deal.”

Kirsten Martin, professor of technology ethics at the University of Notre Dame, said, “If Musk is concerned that a lot of people were upset by Trump’s ban, he should see how many more people would be upset if Trump hadn’t been banned.” ” “Musk appears to be concerned only about the opinion of a small group of individuals who incite violence or promote hate speech.”

Trump has previously said he had no intention of rejoining Twitter even if his account has been reinstated, telling Fox News last month that he would instead focus on his own platform, Truth Social. , which has run into problems since its launch earlier this year.

A Trump spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment in response to Musk’s remarks.

When Trump was president, his Twitter feed featured a mix of policy announcements, often out of the blue; complaints about the media; humiliation of women, minorities and their perceived enemies; and praise for his supporters, exclamation marks, all-caps, and one-word declarations such as “Sad!”

He fired several executives on Twitter and his posts, like his speeches at rallies, were a stream of misinformation.

In announcing Trump’s 2021 ban, Twitter said his tweets were meant to glorify violence when read in the context of the January 6 Capitol riots and to future armed protests around the inauguration of then-president-elect Joe Biden. The plan was to air online.

Musk’s remarks on Tuesday raise questions about whether the return of those banned in addition to Trump may be possible. The long list of people banned from Twitter includes QAnon loyalists, COVID deniers, neo-Nazis and former reality star Tila Tequila, who was suspended for hate speech.

Other Trump aides kicked off on Twitter, including Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell, Lynn Wood and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green, who were permanently banned in January for repeatedly spreading misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccine safety. was done.

White supremacist David Duke and the often violent Proud Boys organization have been banned, as well as far-right trolls known as Baked Alaska, who promoted anti-Semitic tropes and for their involvement in the January 6 attack. faced charges.

Infowars creator Alex Jones was permanently banned for abusive behavior in 2018. Last year, Jones lost a defamation case filed by the parents of children killed in 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut, over Jones’ repeated claims that the shooting was fake.

Twitter, Musk said Tuesday, currently has a strong bias to the left, mainly because it is based in San Francisco. This perceived bias prevents it from building trust in the US and the rest of the world, he said, adding: “It’s so random and I think Twitter needs to hand it even more.”

Twitter declined to comment on Musk’s remarks.

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