January 30, 2023

How Elon Musk could impact Twitter’s battles over speech abroad

5 min read


“By ‘free speech’, I mean straightforward law,” he said in one of his recent speeches. Tweets On this topic. “I am against censorship which is far beyond the law. If people want less freedom of expression, they will ask the government to make laws for it.” Musk also said he thinks Twitter should be “reluctant to delete things” and “be very careful with permanent restrictions”.
Musk’s statement has already been made. Raise some concerns In the Twitter domestic market, how this will affect the platform’s approach to dealing with harassment, misinformation and content moderation. But Musk’s currency could create new uncertainties for Twitter’s platform if applied to overseas markets, which make up the majority of Twitter users. This is because the definitions of freedom of expression, and the laws governing it, often look very different from the United States around the world.
In some markets, such as the EU, Twitter and its peers are facing increasing challenges. Regulatory pressure To strengthen moderation in the content against hate speech and misinformation. In other markets, Twitter has. Faced with pressure Restricting critical speech to local governments. Whatever Musk’s personal views on the implementation of the content, Twitter faces significant fines and other penalties for non-compliance with local laws in various countries. In some cases, Twitter did Banned Or threatened with a ban?

Some digital rights advocates say they can’t believe how much Musk has thought about the complex regulatory environment facing Twitter abroad and how far Musk’s proprietary Twitter has lagged behind government pressure in other countries. Wants to withdraw, as it has done in some countries. recently.

“I’m not sure how much Musk is concerned about the Twitter spare outside the United States,” Yaman Akdeniz, a law professor at Istanbul Belgi University and founder of the UK-based organization Cyber ​​Rights and Cyber ​​Liberties, told CNN Business. Turkey is one of several countries that has banned Twitter in the past. Blocking the platform in 2014 On anti-government rhetoric.

“I’m sure Musk’s Twitter will not only care about the ban they will challenge. [or] Resist such an attempt, “he said.

David Kay, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine and former UN special envoy for the promotion and protection of freedom of expression and expression, said the “concern” was that Musk was “involved” Talk about rubbing salt in my wounds – d’oh!

ThisSuggests that he cares about everyone, really, his ability to set and post individually … the desire to maximize the possibility that everyone raises his voice, “said Kay, who He also wrote a book, Speech Police: The Global Struggle for Governance on the Internet.

Kaye added: “I don’t even realize he’s thinking about the global part of the platform.”

Musk and Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.

Advocacy groups say brands should force Twitter to adhere to content policies under Musk.

Twitter’s free speech is at war with foreign governments.

In recent years, Twitter has fought several free speech wars against governments in some of the company’s major markets, often responsible for protecting the rights of its users among social media companies.

In India, which has an online population of around 830 million, China last year outnumbered any other country except Twitter. There was a quarrel with the government Demands for termination of accounts related to protests of the country’s farmers. Twitter complied with some requests but refused to take action against the accounts of journalists, activists or politicians.

The Indian government said at the time that Twitter was “welcome to do business in India” but that it should respect local laws. The government added, “In India, we value freedom and we value criticism because it is part of our democracy.” “But freedom of expression is not absolute and it is subject to reasonable restrictions.”

India is bombarding Twitter with requests for user data and removal of content.
Months later, Twitter Banned In Nigeria, he deleted a tweet from President Muhammadu Bohari, which was Considered widely aggressive. And threats to some of its citizens. Of The ban has been lifted Earlier this year, Twitter agreed to meet all the conditions set by the Nigerian government, according to a government statement, which included “managing prohibited publications in accordance with Nigerian law.”

Twitter is also important. Dealing with oppressive governments around the world, such as Russia, Myanmar and Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

“Over the years, Twitter has refused to comply with unfair laws, laws that do not meet international human rights standards,” said Jillian York, director of international freedom of expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “I’m definitely worried about that. [Musk] There is a lack of understanding of international human rights issues, and of ways in which state actors around the world can demand censorship on these platforms and use them for damaging purposes. “

Musk’s other business

If the latest deal goes through, Twitter will become just another piece of Musk’s growing business empire – including Tesla, SpaceX and Boring Company – some of which rely on governmental relations in the United States and abroad. ۔ It can also complicate Twitter’s approach to dealing with certain content battles.

Electric car maker Tesla (TSLA)In particular, it could potentially lead to controversy abroad, including a major country where Twitter does not operate: China. Not only is China the world’s largest car market, but its financial capital, Shanghai, is also one of Tesla’s largest manufacturing plants. Twitter, in particular, has been banned in China for years, although it has not stopped its government officials and prominent citizens from actively using the platform. Complaint When their accounts are blocked or Labeled In some ways.
Elon Musk wants end-to-end encryption for Twitter DM.  It can't be that easy.
Some people – including Musk’s fellow billionaire and sometimes rival, Founder of Amazon Jeff Bezos – Publicly questioned whether Musk’s ownership of Twitter could give China some advantage on the platform as Tesla needs to continue operating there.

Kaye says it can be difficult to predict how governments will put pressure on Musk, or how Musk will respond. “But given the fact that it has these huge economic interests in Tesla and SpaceX and the real implications of government relations in those interests, you might think that governments are saying to it: ‘We want this Tesla. But if you deal with the platform that way. ”

Separately, a leading official in Europe, who has been particularly active in regulating big-tech platforms in recent years, pointed to the fact that Tesla has to operate and comply with regulators abroad. Musk’s experience shows that he should know that he has to do the same with Twitter. (Many European countries too Strict rules Against hate speech).
“Whether it’s cars or social media, any company operating in Europe needs to comply with our rules – regardless of their shareholding,” said Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner and a leading digital regulator. Said in a statement. Tweet.

“Mr Musk is well aware of this. He is familiar with European laws relating to automotive, and will be rapidly adapting to the Digital Services Act,” Breton said, citing a new law recently passed by Europe. He added that the tech industry is enforcing new rules on how to deal with misinformation. And illegal content on social media.

Even after Bezos, Twitter and Tesla questioned China’s possible new leverage, Acknowledged “Musk is very good at navigating this kind of complexity.”





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