Macron demands that Musk’s Twitter ‘respect EU regulations’ on speech

French President Emmanuel Macron demanded that Elon Musk abide by European Union speech restrictions on Twitter during a meeting on Friday.

After a state visit to the White House with President Joe Biden, Emmanuel Macron met with Tesla and Twitter chief Elon Musk in New Orleans, Louisiana. During the meeting, Macron said he again stressed the need for Twitter to moderate so-called hate speech and misinformation to comply with EU rules.

According to Macron, the couple also discussed Tesla’s expansion in France, including future “green industrial projects” such as manufacturing electric cars and batteries in the country.

Relaying some details of the hour-long meeting on Twitter, Mr. Macron wrote that he told Musk that the social media giant must implement “transparent terms of service, a significant strengthening of content moderation” and, paradoxically, “protection of free speech”, adding that “Twitter must make the effort to comply with European regulations”.

In particular, the right to freedom of expression as defined by the European Convention on Human Rights may be restricted “in the interest of national security, territorial disorder or crime, the protection of health or morals, protection of the reputation or rights of others, to prevent the disclosure of confidential information or to maintain the authority and impartiality of the judiciary”.

The French leader said Musk had confirmed that the platform would respect the principles of the 2019 Christchurch Call to Action Summit in Paris, co-chaired by Macron and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern following the terrorist attack on a mosque. The summit saw leaders agree to try “to weed out terrorist and violent extremist content online”.

Finally, Macron claimed that Musk reaffirmed his commitment to implementing safeguards for children on the social media platform. Since taking over Twitter, the Tesla chief has made it a priority to try and eradicate the site’s longstanding problem of child pornography.

The French leader’s statements came just days after it was reported that the bloc had threatened to take the extraordinary Chinese Communist-style step of banning Twitter from the EU if it failed to meet its speaking standards.

The meeting between Macron and Musk also comes just days after the European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA) came into effect.

The draconian legislation will give Brussels even more powers to control internet speech and create new enforcement mechanisms to punish platforms that fail to follow the bloc’s rules on so-called hate speech and misinformation.

If a compliance fails to meet the DSA principles by February 2024, the EU will be able to impose fines of up to 6% of its global revenue and possibly even ban the platform from the bloc altogether.

While Mr. Musk claimed that the the prevalence of hateful content actually dropped since his takeover and further stated that he would continue to ban shadow accounts that spread allegedly hateful messages, establishment figures have complained about his decision to reinstate banned accounts, including that of the former President Donald Trump.

Responding to concerns about the prospect of less censorship on the platform, the billionaire tech entrepreneur previously told EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton – the main force behind the introduction of DSA – that he is “ exactly aligned” with the EU philosophy on censorship.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *