Suspended accounts will be rehabilitated next week on Twitter, announced its new boss Elon Musk. One condition: “that they have not broken the law or sent spam in an outrageous way”.
“The people have spoken,” Elon Musk tweeted on Thursday, a US holiday for Thanksgiving Day, accompanying his post with the message “Vox Populi, Vox Dei” (“The voice of the people is the voice of God”) , which published a poll on its network on Wednesday after which a majority emerged in favor of this measure, 72.4% of the approximately 3.16 million people said “yes”. “The amnesty starts next week,” he added days after doing the same on behalf of Donald Trump. The latter, however, has not yet reused his Twitter account.
The leader of Tesla and SpaceX had taken this decision following a similar consultation on the blue bird network, a method of uncertain representativeness. A narrow majority (51.8%) of the 15 million voters had expressed themselves in favor of a return of the Republican billionaire, who has not tweeted since the restoration of his account. Elon Musk has repeatedly explained that he bought Twitter because he sees the platform as the “digital public square” essential to democracy around the world.
The richest man in the world considers the moderation of content too restrictive, but his absolutist vision of freedom of expression raises fears of a surge of abuse (misinformation, hate speech) on the social network. Many brands have already suspended ad spending on Twitter, which is 90% dependent on it for revenue.
Elon Musk, however, seems to have a limit: he has indicated that he will not reinstate the account of American far-right conspirator Alex Jones, who has been sued for several years by parents of victims of the Newton Sandy Hook school shooting. (Connecticut) for claiming the massacre was just a staged show by opponents of guns. Having experienced the death of his first child, he explained that he was “without mercy towards anyone who uses the deaths of children for (gain) financial, political or fame gains”.
Elon Musk is widely criticized for his impulsive decisions at the helm of Twitter, from mass layoffs to the chaotic launch of new features. He dismisses criticism several times a day on his account with 118 million subscribers with memes (parodic images), emoticons, provocations, personal attacks and pirouettes. But the billionaire risks being overtaken by regulators. Twitter must indeed respect European laws, including that on Digital Services (DSA) which should oblige platforms to quickly remove illegal content and to fight against misinformation.
Arcom, the French media policeman, reminded the Californian group of its “obligations” on Monday and asked it to “confirm” by Thursday that it was “able” to deal with it and “to inform it of the short-term development of the human and technological resources” devoted to it.