(New Orleans) A walkabout in the mythical “French Quarter” to conclude his state visit to the United States: Emmanuel Macron went to New Orleans on Friday, a city emblematic of historic Franco-American ties , to celebrate the Francophonie and… meet Elon Musk.
The day after a lavish reception at the White House which sealed the French president’s “friendship” with his American counterpart Joe Biden, the French president treated himself with his wife Brigitte to a stroll through the very lively little streets of the downtown.
Emmanuel Macron, in shirt sleeves, was greeted with “Welcome Sir”, in French in the text. He and the first lady posed with young children in the arms given to them by parents for a photo.
A moment that contrasts with the first two very official days of his visit, between meeting on nuclear power and space, speeches at the embassy and speeches to American parliamentarians.
After this walk under much milder weather than the winter sun in Washington, Emmanuel Macron announced from the New Orleans art museum a new plan, “French For All”, to promote the teaching of French. in the USA.
birthplace of jazz
He had previously met with the Governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, to discuss in particular the issue of climate change and, according to the Élysée, “the strengthening of relations in the energy field” – Louisiana being a major exporter of gas liquefied natural.
Accompanied by the film director Claude Lelouch and the dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied, Emmanuel Macron was also to meet actors of cultural life in this city, the cradle of jazz, the day after a gala dinner at the White House hosted by the pianist virtuoso Jon Batiste, from a musical family in New Orleans.
On Thursday, during a visit overflowing with diplomatic affection, Emmanuel Macron and Joe Biden displayed their unity over Ukraine, demonstrating their desire to seek a solution to the war together, and smoothed over the economic disputes that had dominated the build-up to their one-on-one in the Oval Office.
“Before I set foot in the dish”, the question of the impact of the American climate plan (IRA) on European industries was “not a debate”, neither in France nor in the United States, has he said during his walkabout on Friday. “Now everyone is talking about it, it’s a good thing. »
Speaking about the question of “exemptions” demanded in the United States for European industries, he declared: “by the beginning of next year”, in the first quarter of 2023, “we must have been able to settle this subject”, “we have to finalize these subjects”.
After a dinner far from the cameras with a dozen representatives of the cultural life of New Orleans, the president was to fly to Paris.
Emmanuel Macron and Elon Musk spoke for an hour in New Orleans. The interview had not been previously announced by the Élysée, and was kept away from the media.
The two men welcomed Friday having discussed the moderation of content on Twitter, while the entrepreneur has so far taken decisions largely contrary to the exhortations of the French president and other European leaders.
“I talk about it here, on Twitter, because that’s what it’s about. This afternoon, I met Elon Musk and we had a clear and sincere discussion,” wrote Emmanuel Macron.
He also said he discussed with the Tesla co-founder “future green industrial projects, such as the production of electric vehicles and batteries”.
“It was an honor to see you again”, replied Elon Musk, saying he was “impatient” about “exciting projects in France”.
The richest man in the world bought the influential platform at the end of October for 44 billion dollars.
Its absolutist vision of freedom of expression worries many users, authorities and advertisers, who fear a surge of hatred and misinformation.
“Elon Musk has confirmed Twitter’s participation in the Christchurch Call. Terrorist and violent content has no place anywhere, ”detailed the French president, referring to an initiative launched by several states and NGOs in 2019, after the killings in Christchurch, New Zealand, whose images had remained. accessible online for several hours.
” Big problem “
The businessman did not react on this point.
He had initially promised a content moderation council responsible for all major decisions, but he himself finally decided to restore many accounts, starting with that of ex-US president Donald Trump, banned after the attack. of the Capitol in January 2021.
He also ended the fight against false information related to COVID-19, which is a “big problem”, according to Emmanuel Macron.
“I think we have to tackle the subject head-on, I’m in favor of the exact opposite, more regulation. We do it (in France, editor’s note) and we do it at European level, ”he said Thursday in an interview with the ABC channel.
Freedom of expression “implies responsibilities and limits. You cannot go out and make racist or anti-Semitic remarks, it is a point that is important to me to defend, ”he added.
Already on Wednesday, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, had told Elon Musk that there was “still a huge amount of work to be done”. Twitter will have to “significantly strengthen the moderation of content […] and resolutely tackle misinformation,” he added, according to an account of their telephone conversation.
The new owner of Twitter has laid off more than half of the employees of the Californian group, and the content moderation teams have not been spared.
According to several NGOs, including the Center for Countering Digital Hate, racist, homophobic, misogynistic and anti-Semitic messages have “shockingly” increased on the platform for a month.
“Completely false,” Elon Musk tweeted in response to an article by the New York Times detailing the conclusions of the associations.
He claimed that the number of times tweets containing hate speech are seen by users “continue to decline”.
The libertarian entrepreneur recently clarified his personal limits on free speech.
The account of American rapper Kanye West has been suspended for “incitement to violence”, in particular after the publication of admiring remarks for Hitler.
And Elon Musk is opposed to the return of Alex Jones, the far-right American conspirator convicted of claiming that a school massacre was just a staged show by opponents of guns.
Having experienced the death of his first child, the multi-billionaire explained that he was “merciless towards anyone who uses the deaths of children to (gain) financial, political or fame gains”.
Emmanuel Macron also concluded his series of tweets by declaring: “We will work with Twitter to improve the protection of children online. Elon Musk confirmed it to me today. Let’s better protect our children online! »