Elon Musk is at the head of an empire that gives him considerable influence around the world.
He is the CEO of Tesla (TSLA) – Get a free report, the company that dominates the electric vehicle industry. Demand for his vehicles has risen sharply due to the need to reduce CO2 emissions around the world.
Musk is also the head of SpaceX, the aerospace company whose Starlink service has become a hope for populations living under oppressive regimes. Stralink offers independent and secure Internet access via satellite. His success in Ukraine has contributed to his popularity in countries like Cuba and Iran, and even China.
Musk has now added Twitter to this already enormous influence (TWTR) – Get a free report. The social network is considered the marketplace of our time. The place where information is disseminated very quickly and where the agenda of issues considered important is set is often fixed.
The importance of the platform comes with great responsibility. And it is expressed in the content policy of the microblogging site. Basically what is acceptable on the platform. Musk has never made a secret of being a “free speech absolutist.” This means he believes anything is acceptable as long as it doesn’t break the law. The problem is that this stance scares businesses, civil rights groups, and politicians, who fear it will turn Twitter into a “hellscape.”
Advertisers have therefore put pressure on the billionaire by suspending their commercials while they wait and see which direction he wants to take. Civil rights groups have also warned of the surge in hateful, racist and anti-Semitic posts since Musk took control of Twitter on Oct. 27.
The European Union has already hinted to Musk that Twitter must comply with its rules aimed at making the internet a “safer space for users.”
“In Europe, the bird will fly according to our 🇪🇺 rules,” said Thierry Breton, the EU’s Internal Market Commissioner, on October 28. He added the hashtag “#DSA”.
DSA refers to the Digital Services Act, a law regulating the Internet passed by the European Parliament last January.
The EU wants what is banned offline to be banned online as well.
The law requires social networks to set up a “button” that allows users to report objectionable content. It should be easily accessible and easy to use. In other words, you shouldn’t have to click 36,000 times to trigger an alert. Platforms are also clearly encouraged to provide resources to better moderate their networks, that is, to delete illegal content (homophobic, racist, pornographic, illegal products, etc.).
The law comes into force in 2024 and provides for fines of up to 6% of a platform’s total revenue.
In this regard, French President Emmanuel Macron has just launched an initiative aimed at better protecting children from predators, pedophiles and online abuse and bullying.
For this, Macron needs the cooperation of the main players who dominate the Internet. He managed to win over TikTok, Meta Platforms (META) – Get a free report and Google (WELL) – Get a free report, the main competitors of Twitter. But aware that his initiative would have limited success if one of the key players didn’t get involved, Macron approached Musk directly.
“We must better protect our children on social networks and the internet!” The French President posted on Twitter on November 10th. “To protect our children online, we need to better verify users’ ages, better identify and stop sex offenders, and better identify and fight bullying. We need to be more efficient in combating content.”
He continued, “Together with our partners, we are launching the Children Online Protection Lab today. France, Estonia, New Zealand, Amazon, Dailymotion, Meta, Microsoft, Alphabet, Snap, TikTok and Qwant have signed up. All who are willing to do so should do it. Join us!”
Macron then asked directly if Twitter would join the initiative: “👋 @elonmusk, will the bird protect our children?”
“Absolument,” Musk replied in French. The word means absolute.
The billionaire’s engagement comes as no great surprise. He was outraged last September after a study by Ghost Data showed that Twitter placed marketing campaigns by car makers Mazda, Dyson and chemical company Ecolab alongside tweets inciting child pornography.
More than 30 brands, from Walt Disney to Coca-Cola to NBC Universal, had ads appearing on Twitter account pages alongside content promoting child pornography, says Reuters, which published the results of a study by cybersecurity firm Ghost Data into child sexual abuse in the United States checked internet.
“Extremely concerning,” Musk, 51, father of nine, commented at the time.
The enterprise said in its transparency reports released last July that it “banned 596,997 unique accounts during this reporting period – a 32% increase from our previous report.”
The report covers July to December 2021.