Running Twitter may be harder than Elon Musk thinks

On Tuesday, Elon Musk said he would rescind Twitter’s ban on former President Donald Trump, who was fired in January 2021 for inciting violence at the U.S. Capitol if he succeeded in its $44 billion acquisition of the social platform .

But a day earlier, the Tesla CEO also said he agreed to a new EU digital services bill that would require big tech companies like Twitter, Google and Facebook parent Meta to more strictly police illegal or illegal content on their platforms. Harmful content, such as hate speech and false information.

This apparent contradiction underscores the steep learning curve the world’s richest man will face once he encounters the complexities of moderating Twitter content in dozens of languages ​​and cultures. Twitter must comply with laws and regulations in multiple countries, taking into account the reactions of advertisers, users, politicians and others.

“He certainly wouldn’t be the first person to say ‘I’m going to do this’ and realize either they really don’t want to do it, or their users don’t want them to do it,” said David Green, Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Director of Civil Liberties.

The Tesla CEO, speaking virtually at a car conference, said Twitter’s ban on Trump was a “morally wrong decision” and “extremely stupid.”

“I think it was a mistake because it alienated much of the country and didn’t end up leaving Donald Trump without a voice,” Musk said. He said he prefers suspensions and other targeted penalties for content that is illegal or “devastating to the world.”

Earlier in the day, Musk met with EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton to discuss the EU’s online regulations. Thierry told The Associated Press that he outlined to Musk how the EU is committed to safeguarding free speech while ensuring that any illegal behavior “will be banned in the digital space,” adding that Musk “completely agrees” with him.

In a video Brittany tweeted late Monday, Musk said the two had had a “great discussion”, adding that he agreed to the Digital Services Act, which is expected to come later this year. Some time to get final approval. If Twitter and other big tech companies don’t regulate their platforms, it will face billions of dollars in fines.

Twitter shares fell 1.5% to $47.24 a share on Tuesday. That’s 13% lower than Musk’s April 14 offer of $54.20 a share, reflecting Wall Street’s concerns that the deal could still fail. Musk stressed on Tuesday that it was “certainly not a done deal.”

Kirsten Martin, a professor of technology ethics at the University of Notre Dame, said: “If Musk is concerned that a lot of people are upset about Trump being banned, he should see how many people would be upset if Trump wasn’t banned. “Musk only seems concerned about the opinions of a small group of people who incite violence or chronic hate speech.”

Trump has previously said he has no intention of rejoining Twitter even if his account is reinstated, telling Fox News last month that he would instead focus on his own platform, Truth Social, which has been running since launching earlier this year. In trouble.

A Trump spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Musk’s remarks.

During Trump’s presidency, his tweets have provided a series of policy announcements, often unexpected. Complaints to the media; belittling women, minorities, and his perceived enemies; and praising his supporters, filled with exclamation marks, all caps, and one-word statements like “Sad!”

He fired many officials on Twitter, and his posts, like his speeches at rallies, were a torrent of misinformation.

In announcing its 2021 Trump ban, Twitter said his tweets, when read in the context of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, involved violence and planned to circulate online for the Future armed protests at Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration.

Musk’s remarks on Tuesday raised the question of whether banned people other than Trump could also return. The long list of people banned from Twitter includes QAnon loyalists, COVID deniers, neo-Nazis and former reality TV star Tila Tequila, who was suspended for hate speech.

Other Trump Twitter allies include Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell, Lynn Wood and Rep. Marjorie Tyler Green, who has repeatedly spread misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccine safety It was permanently banned in January.

White supremacist David Duke and the often violent Proud Boys were banned, along with far-right trolls such as a man named Baked Alaska, who preached anti-Semitic tropes and was arrested for participating in Jan. 6 facing charges for the attack.

Infowars creator Alex Jones was permanently banned in 2018 for abusive behavior. Last year, Jones lost a defamation case brought by the parents of children killed in the 2012 Newtown, Connecticut school shooting, which Jones has repeatedly claimed was false.

Musk said Tuesday that Twitter currently has a strong left-leaning lean, largely because of its San Francisco location. This so-called bias prevents it from building trust in the rest of the U.S. and the world, he said: “It’s so random, and I think Twitter needs to be fairer.”

Twitter declined to comment on Musk’s remarks.

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