Tensions and anxiety reign in the exchanges between Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter, and many users eager to understand how he intends to flesh out his vision of freedom of expression on the influential platform.
On Wednesday, the multi-billionaire assured that the accounts that had been suspended from the social network will not be reinstated before “a few weeks”, when it is time to put in place a “clear process”.
Thus, he ruled out the hypothesis that Donald Trump would return to Twitter a few days before crucial elections in the United States.
The former US president was kicked off the platform shortly after the capitol storming in January 2021, accused of calling his supporters to violence.
He has since stated that he would never return to Twitter after launching his own network, Truth Social, for the Confidential Hearing. But many believe he will be tempted to find his tens of millions of subscribers on the platform that was at the heart of his political communication.
However, Elon Musk had estimated in May that this ban constituted “a morally bad decision and insane in the extreme.”
The libertarian entrepreneur espouses an absolutist vision of free speech, his ultimate motivation for this $44 billion takeover of the “global public square.”
Since Thursday, he has been talking hot and cold around the implementation, promising some that the network will not become unviable and others that accounts “suspended for minor or questionable reasons will be released from Twitter’s prison.” .
Elon Musk wants to form a content moderation board, made up of “representatives with very different opinions.” He also claimed to have discussed with several leaders of minority rights associations about “how Twitter would continue to fight hate and harassment and enforce its rules on the integrity of elections.”
But the “Twitter hotline operator,” as he renamed himself in his profile, doesn’t seem to satisfy anyone.
“It sends mixed signals,” says Suzanne Nossel, director of Pen America, a free speech association. “He’s realizing that (the task) is harder than it first appears.”
A collective of nearly 50 associations for the defense of democracy or the fight against disinformation urged the top 20 advertisers on Twitter (including Coca-Cola, Google and Disney) to threaten Elon Musk with stopping all advertising on the network, if ever. Settled” content moderation.
General Motors has already announced that it will temporarily suspend its spending on the platform.
Several minority advocacy NGOs, fearing a resurgence of abuse (harassment, racism, misinformation), ask the new boss for his share to better police the app.
For some ultraconservatives, by contrast, liberalization is not going fast enough. Columnist Benny Johnson is urging Elon Musk to fire Twitter executives who “censored” certain topics if he wants to “restore public trust” in the network.
“Being attacked from both the left and the right is a good sign,” joked the capricious leader.
“I think he is convinced that speeches by conservatives are censored on Twitter, while studies prove that this is not the case,” comments Suzanne Nossel.
She hopes he will reconsider this false assumption and understand “why we value free speech” as the ability to dialogue, persuade and bring out the best ideas.
“When a public place of ideas is drowned in disinformation, when you can no longer separate right from wrong and people turn away because they can’t find valid information… then the benefits of free speech are disappearing,” she elaborates.
On paper, Elon Musk seems to subscribe to that view.
“Our goal is to make Twitter the most trusted source of information on Earth, regardless of political affiliation,” he said Wednesday, praising the merits of “Birdwatch,” a Twitter program that lets you back up disputed messages from context. written by independent contributors.
The White House withdrew a tweet on Wednesday that praised the increase in pensions thanks to Joe Biden, while the background note recalled the role played by a 1972 pension law.
But on Sunday, Elon Musk aired a conspiracy theory about the attack on the husband of Nancy Pelosi, leader of the Democrats in Congress. He even deleted his tweet afterwards.