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New Twitter boss Elon Musk announced on Thursday that he would reinstate suspended accounts on the platform next week if they did not break the law, returning to reassuring remarks during his takeover. .
To the question, posted on Wednesday in the form of a poll on its account, whether Twitter should offer a “blanket amnesty to suspended accounts provided they have not broken the law or sent outrageous spam”, 72, 4% of the approximately 3.16 million accounts that responded said “yes”.
“The people have spoken, amnesty starts next week,” Mr. Musk tweeted on Thursday, a holiday in the United States for the holiday of Thanksgiving, accompanying his publication of the message “Vox Populi, Vox Dei” (“The voice of the people is the voice of God”).
The people have spoken.
Amnesty begins next week.
Vox Populi vox dei.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 24, 2022
It is with this same expression that he had, on Saturday, rehabilitated the account of former American President Donald Trump, banned from the social network after the assault on the Capitol in Washington in January 2021.
The leader of Tesla and SpaceX had made 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 considers the platform to be the “digital public square” essential to democracy in 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.
The libertarian entrepreneur first tried to appease them, recalling at the end of October that the rules had not [encore] changed and promising not to make any decision on reinstating accounts until a “content moderation board” is established.
But advertisers who had promised to maintain spending on the condition that this moderation council be created “have broken the agreement”, he wrote on Tuesday as justification for the return of the accounts ousted from the platform.
Several major brands, including Volkswagen, General Motors and General Mills, have announced that they will suspend advertising spending on Twitter since its acquisition by Mr. Musk.
However, Elon Musk seems to have a limit: he has indicated that he will not reinstate the account of far-right American conspirator Alex Jones, who has been sued for several years by parents of victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newton. (Connecticut) for falsely claiming that 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 would use the deaths of children to [engranger des] financial, political or reputational gain”.
In the sights of regulators
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.
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