(San Francisco) The new boss of Twitter Elon Musk announced Thursday that he would restore suspended accounts on the platform next week if they did not break the law, thus returning to reassuring remarks when he was taken control.
To the question, published on Wednesday in the form of a poll on its account, whether Twitter should offer a “general amnesty to suspended accounts provided they have not broken the law or sent unsolicited messages in an outrageous way”, 72.4% of the approximately 3.16 million people said “yes”.
“People have spoken, amnesty starts next week,” Musk tweeted Thursday, a US Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, accompanying his post with the message “Vox Populi, Vox Dei.” (“The voice of the people is the voice of God”).
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 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 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 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 (yet) changed and promising not to take any decision on the reinstatement of accounts before the creation of a “council of moderation of contents”.
But the advertisers who had promised to maintain their 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 evicted 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.
Elon Musk, however, seems to have a limit: he indicated that he would not restore the account of the American far-right conspirator Alex Jones, sued for several years by parents of victims of the shooting of the Sandy Hook school in Newton. (Connecticut) for claiming the massacre was just a staged show by opponents of guns.
Having experienced the death of his first child, he explained to be “merciless vis-à-vis 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), emojis, 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.