Laws, security and ethics: Elon Musk's giant challenge to Twitter
The purchase of Twitter comes with enormous political and legal challenges for Elon Musk.
Elon Musk's acquisition of Twitter has sparked excitement and apprehension, but also plenty of snide comments from observers who don't give much from the boss of Tesla about the gargantuan task ahead, especially if he fires several staff members.
The public square he bought for 44 billion US dollars (60 billion Canadian dollars) comes with immense legal, ethical and technical responsibilities compared to his means.
Twitter does not have the human and financial resources of its neighbors Meta and Google, but must manage similar problems, from content moderation to cybersecurity and compliance with different laws in different countries.
However, Elon Musk has fired management and plans to lay off some 75% of the 7,500 people who work at Twitter, according to Washington Post. And several hundred staff members already left the company last summer, of their own free will, according to an employee who wishes to remain anonymous.
The platform has an infinite number of security and safety issues, says George Washington University professor Rebekah Tromble.
< p>“My worst fear at this point is a massive layoff plan or mass resignations. This would largely regress an already flawed system. »
— Rebekah Tromble, professor at George Washington University
Elon Musk wishes dramatically decrease Twitter's workforce.
Twitter had just 238 million active daily followers at the end of June, a fraction of the traffic of Facebook or YouTube, but the diligence of policy makers and other media personalities puts it steadily at the forefront. heart of controversy.
The social network is criticized as sharply by the American right, which considers itself censored by it, as well as by the left and many non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which advocate a firmer fight against what it is. they consider abuse.
Currently, Twitter has penalties ranging from warnings and removal of tweets to account suspensions for offenses such as false information about COVID-19, racist messages or incitement to violence.
It's not 100% effective. And when hate or harassment slips through the cracks, it translates into harm in real life, says Rebekah Tromble.
Donald Trump is among those banned from the platform. The decision divided public opinion at the time.
Elon Musk already seems to have tempered his absolutist approach to freedom of expression, to reassure advertisers, who are generally concerned not to associate their brand with non-consensual content.
The new boss promised that Twitter would not go from hell and that he would give the platform a content moderation board to make decisions.
“Twitter has had such a committee in the past, like other social networks. It never leads to much.
— Rebekah Tromble, Professor at George Washington University
Tech companies have also developed sophisticated algorithms to filter out problematic content, but in practice , moderation is done by hand by tens of thousands of underpaid people, she adds.
On Friday, Elon Musk seemed determined to provide after-sales service himself.
Those suspended for minor or questionable reasons will be released from Twitter prison, for example, he replied to a user who asked him to let his father return to the platform.
Elon Musk took possession of Twitter after a complex economic and legal contest with the social network.
The multi-billionaire will come under pressure from his fans, but also from the many governments who are questioning the powers of social networks.
Its room for maneuver will be reduced by the new rules adopted in Europe and India, estimates Emma Llansó, of the NGO Center for Democracy and Technology .
The United States has long been more lax, but some conservative states now also want to regulate moderation.
Musk will find himself in a difficult position if the law passed in Texas mandates keeping certain content that Europe is forcing to remove, sums up the specialist.
Are you excited for the Chinese government to find ways to threaten Tesla's business in China over content that pops up on Twitter? Because it will happen, Nilay Patel, editor-in-chief of The Verge, wrote on Friday in an editorial addressed to the entrepreneur.
“Welcome to hell. It was your idea. »
— Nilay Patel, editor-in-chief of The Verge, in an editorial addressed to Elon Musk
The social network must also fend off cyberattacks on a daily basis, coming as well hackers than criminal groups and agencies working on behalf of foreign states.
As of July 2020, the accounts of prominent Americans, including Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Jeff Bezos and even Elon Musk, had been hacked by young Americans who had obtained the IDs of salaried people.
You are now the king of Twitter, and people think that you are now personally responsible for everything that happens there, Nilay Patel quipped.