“Twitter is for Elon Musk a turnkey technological solution to develop his X app” – rts.ch

By buying Twitter, Elon Musk wants to create a “big application”: X app. “It will be a major data acquisition system,” said Asma Mhalla, professor at Sciences-Po Paris and the Ecole polytechnique, on Wednesday in the RTS program Tout un monde.

“More than the show around the industrial project of Elon Musk – his very strange part, his incessant tweets and his trolling – there is the creation of the X app”, advances Asma Mhalla, teacher in Sciences -Po Paris and the ‘Polytechnic university.

What do we know about the X app? Elon Musk wants to take inspiration from the Chinese WeChat, by creating a “big application” with a social network, private messaging… “It will be a major system for obtaining industrial and personal data, especially as it relates to his other projects, including Starlink (network of satellites to ensure an internet connection, editor’s note).”

And to add: “In the very short term, there is an issue of profitability. In the longer term, Twitter is for Elon Musk a turnkey technological solution to develop his X app.”

If Elon Musk becomes a pebble in the diplomatic shoe of Joe Biden or another president, the United States has a compelling way, according to law and institutions, to reframe him.

Asma Mhalla, teacher at Sciences-Po Paris and the Ecole polytechnique

The X app project should be watched with “extreme vigilance”, especially since it will be “ideologically supported” by Elon Musk. “Behind Musk, in a number of projects like SpaceX, there is NASA or the Pentagon. So always in one way or another the American State as a contributor has an official public-private partnership or looks at it closely. The White House deliberately did not respond to Elon Musk’s statements on Ukraine, for example, so as not to give them help.”

However, if Elon Musk becomes a “pebble in the diplomatic shoe” of Joe Biden or another president, “the United States has a compelling way, according to law and institutions, to reframe him,” said by Asma Mhalla.

Certification, a democratic tool

Elon Musk unveiled his first major project on Tuesday: an $8 per month subscription for users who want their account certified as authentic. Currently, only certain profiles can request this authentication token, including governments, companies, media, political, cultural or sports personalities, etc.

>> Read also: Elon Musk wants change at Twitter… and fast

“In a number of authoritarian regimes, certification allows journalists, opponents or activists to prove that this is indeed their word, and therefore should not be hacked by the government”, underlined the digital geopolitical issues specialist.

The influence of Twitter

The richest man in the world has reiterated from the beginning of the acquisition of Twitter that he wants to strengthen freedom of expression in this “public square” that is essential to democracy, and that profitability is not his priority. “Since the Twitter takeover became official, there has been an explosion of anti-Semitic and conspiratorial comments and accounts,” he said. “The facho-sphere is back in a very damaging way, including in Europe.”

Compared to Facebook, which has 3 billion users, Twitter and its 230 million accounts is a small social network. “Twitter’s strength is its prescriptive side in the media and political sphere. (…) For example, the trade war between Trump and China happened on Twitter. (…) With this purchase, Elon Musk also occupied greater media and political influence, but also the ability to set the agenda.”

On Twitter, Elon Musk embraces greater media and political influence, but also the possibility of agenda setting.

Asma Mhalla, teacher at Sciences-Po Paris and the Ecole polytechnique

Asma Mhalla believes that there is “the same logic” in the concentration of traditional media in the hands of big industrialists like Vincent BollorĂ©. But if Twitter becomes a space for conspiracies, violence, cyberbullying, with Elon Musk adding fuel to the fire, we may see users leave. That would not be in the interest of the new owner, he insisted.

“Social networks are new weapons of war where information wars and struggles are also played out. The ambivalence of social networks is that they are public spaces, and even ‘militarized’. From a legal In that view, they remain private companies accountable to the market, and in the case of Twitter, to Elon Musk himself.”

According to the professor at Sciences-Po Paris, public authorities must “quickly answer the question”.

Interview by Eric Guevara-Frey

Web adaptation: Valentin Jordil

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