opinion | Mr. Musk, we won’t let Twitter turn into a monster!

By Paul Midy (Entrepreneur and representative of the 5th district of Essonne)

Posted on Nov 23, 2022, 8:00 AM

Three weeks ago, the richest man in the world, Elon Musk, bought Twitter for 44 billion euros. That day, he tweeted: “The bird [emblème de Twitter] was released. Free from what? According to him, the social network does not sufficiently guarantee freedom of expression.

But this “bird” seems to be very free. A great place for discussion, Twitter is also about fake news, racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, homophobia and calls for hatred that proliferate freely. One accepts there all that one would reject in physical life.

As soon as he arrived, Elon Musk fired half of Twitter’s employees, including a large part of the moderation teams: the ones you can approach when you’re the victim of harassment, “revenge porn” or when you come across content that promotes terrorism. The names of Samuel Paty or Mila remind us of the importance of moderation.

The DSA and the DMA impose obligations

No, the subject is not to free the blue bird but to prevent it from becoming a monster and seek to make it a dove. In other words, to move from the current Far West of social networks to civilized areas of life.

We need more protection for our countrymen, not less protection. In Europe, we had this intuition that led us to adopt, in June 2022, on the occasion of the French presidency of the European Union, the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA). These regulations should ensure that what is illegal in the physical world is illegal in the digital world, while fighting the quasi-monopoly of digital giants.

With DSA, Twitter, Facebook or TikTok will have stronger moderation obligations: quick removal of content, ability for users to challenge decisions, etc. Platforms need to be transparent about their moderation activity and appoint a legal representative in Europe. If they fail to meet their obligations, the European Commission can fine them up to 6% of their global turnover!

Obligation to limit “bubble effects”

Many other protective measures are planned. Platforms will have an obligation to limit “bubble effects” and they will no longer be able to exchange your personal data without your agreement. Platforms like Amazon or Wish will have additional obligations, such as traceability of sellers and information on products banned in Europe.

These DSA and DMA regulations will apply from 2023, after passage in Parliament. These will be additional tools for the government, under the leadership of the Minister of Digital, Jean-Noël Barrot, to continue our fight to protect our fellow citizens in their online lives. And Elon Musk and his new bird will have to follow next year.

Recruiting cyber patrol officers

If these regulations allow us to have a head start compared to other continents, they do not exhaust the reflection we must undertake to make our online life fully civilized. Can we leave the sole responsibility for moderation to the employees of these platforms? Isn’t this a kind of privatization of police in digital worlds? Emmanuel Macron’s program provides a first response by proposing the recruitment of cyber patrol officers to guarantee online security.

Can we allow a sense of impunity to continue for people who believe they are unknown on social networks? Are digital worlds the only places where identity checks are banned? If these questions open up complex technical debates, they should be at the center of our future thinking. If not, Elon Musk risks answering it in front of us, in 280 characters on Twitter.

Paul Midy was a representative of the Renaissance for Essonne.

In Valerie Hayer, Stephanie Yon-Courtin, Sandro GozziRenew MEPs.

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