How regulators are trying to put pressure on Twitter and Elon Musk

It’s a warning shot: accustomed to a measured speech, Arcom expressed, Tuesday, November 22, “his deep concern” on the “Twitter’s ability to maintain a safe environment for users of its service”. In an official letter addressed to the management of the social network, the former Superior Audiovisual Council fears that the very numerous dismissals to which the new owner, Elon Musk has proceeded, jeopardize the moderation of illicit, hateful, discriminatory content. , misleading…

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Now responsible for supervising digital platforms in several areas, Arcom is already setting a first ultimatum to the company bought by the boss of Tesla and SpaceX: the latter is required to send it, “no later than Thursday, November 24”, the detail of “human and technological resources” devoted to fulfilling its obligations.

The firm tone sums up the state of mind of French and European, even American regulators: Elon Musk is expected at the turn. Its desire to acquire Twitter, on behalf of ” freedom of speech “, had already been known for a few weeks when, on 23 April, the political agreement was sealed on the European regulation Digital Services Act (DSA), which sets new obligations of means to platforms. The irruption, in the field of social networks, of the libertarian and atypical boss, supported by supporters of Donald Trump, contributed to the political dynamics of this text.

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The European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, has also made a point, as of May 9, to meet the champion of electric cars in person, in his Texas factory in Austin, during a sequence relayed by a small video on Twitter. “In Europe, the bird will fly according to our rules”, had warned the Frenchman. “We are on the same wavelength”, had assured Mr. Musk, then a candidate for the takeover of the social network.

Fines of up to 20 million euros

Since then, in Brussels as in Paris, the maneuvers of the entrepreneur are scrutinized. When, a week after the effective acquisition of Twitter, at the end of October, Mr. Musk brutally dismissed half of his 7,500 employees, Arcom checked that his interlocutors, in particular at the European headquarters in Ireland, were still in place.

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Since then, however, the new owner has gone further and has “broke the contract of several thousand service providers, or about 75% of them, according to external estimates”, writes the authority. However, moderation is notably ensured by a team of 1,876 of these contract workers worldwide, according to figures transmitted in 2020 by Twitter – a level already considered low. Not to mention that the head of public affairs in Brussels has been dismissed and the boss of Twitter France has resigned…

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