By MATT O’BRIEN, KELVIN CHAN and TOM KRISHER, AP Enterprise Writers
On Tuesday, Elon Musk stated he would reverse Twitter’s ban of former President Donald Trump, who was booted in January 2021 for inciting violence on the U.S. Capitol, ought to he reach buying the social platform for $44 billion.
However the day earlier than, the Tesla CEO additionally stated he agrees with the European Union’s new Digital Companies Act, a legislation that can require large tech firms like Twitter, Google and Fb father or mother Meta to police their platforms extra strictly for unlawful or dangerous content material akin to hate speech and disinformation.
The obvious contradiction underscores the steep studying curve awaiting the world’s richest man as soon as he encounters the complexity of Twitter’s content material moderation in dozens of languages and cultures. Twitter has to adjust to the legal guidelines and rules of a number of nations whereas making an allowance for the response of advertisers, customers, politicians and others.
“He actually wouldn’t be the primary particular person to say, ‘I’m going to do that’ after which notice that both they don’t actually need to do it or their customers don’t need them to do it,” stated David Greene, civil liberties director on the Digital Frontier Basis.
Talking just about at an auto convention, the Tesla CEO stated that Twitter’s ban of Trump was a “morally dangerous resolution” and “silly within the excessive.”
“I feel that was a mistake as a result of it alienated a big a part of the nation and didn’t finally end in Donald Trump not having a voice,” stated Musk. He stated he most well-liked momentary suspensions and different narrowly tailor-made punishments for content material that’s unlawful or in any other case “damaging to the world.”
Earlier within the day, Musk met with EU Inside Market Commissioner Thierry Breton to debate the bloc’s on-line rules. Thierry instructed The Related Press that he outlined to Musk how the EU goals to uphold free speech whereas additionally ensuring no matter is unlawful “will probably be forbidden within the digital house,” including that Musk “totally agreed” with him.
In a video Breton tweeted late Monday, Musk stated the 2 had a “nice dialogue” and added that he agrees with the Digital Companies Act, which is anticipated to get ultimate approval later this yr. It threatens Twitter and different Huge Tech corporations with billions in fines if they do not police their platforms.
Shares of Twitter dropped 1.5% Tuesday to $47.24 per share. That is 13 p.c under the provide of $54.20 per share that Musk made on April 14, a mirrored image of Wall Road’s issues that the deal may nonetheless fall by way of. Musk emphasised Tuesday that it’s “actually not a carried out deal.”
“If Musk is worried that many individuals have been upset that Trump was banned, he ought to see what number of extra individuals could be upset if Trump was not banned,” stated Kirsten Martin, a professor of know-how ethics on the College of Notre Dame. “Musk solely seems to be anxious concerning the opinion of a small group of people who incite violence or perpetuate hate speech.”
Trump has beforehand stated that he had no intention of rejoining Twitter even when his account was reinstated, telling Fox Information final month that he would as a substitute deal with his personal platform, Fact Social, which has been mired in issues since its launch earlier this yr.
A Trump spokesperson didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark in response to Musk’s remarks.
Whereas Trump was president, his Twitter feed supplied a mixture of coverage bulletins, typically out of the blue; complaints concerning the media; disparagement of ladies, minorities and his perceived enemies; and reward for his supporters, replete with exclamation marks, all-caps, and one-word declarations akin to “Unhappy!”
He fired quite a few officers on Twitter and his posts, like his speeches at rallies, have been a torrent of misinformation.
In saying its 2021 ban of Trump, Twitter stated his tweets amounted to glorification of violence when learn within the context of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and plans circulating on-line for future armed protests across the inauguration of then President-elect Joe Biden.
Musk’s remarks Tuesday elevate questions on whether or not these banned moreover Trump may additionally return. The lengthy record of individuals banned from Twitter consists of QAnon loyalists, COVID deniers, neo-Nazis and former actuality star Tila Tequila, who was suspended for hate speech.
Different Trump allies kicked off Twitter embrace Michael Flynn and Sidney Powell, Lin Wooden and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who was completely banned in January for repeatedly spreading misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccine security.
White supremacist David Duke and the customarily violent Proud Boys group have been banned, together with far-right trolls like one who goes by the identify Baked Alaska, who promoted anti-Semitic tropes and faces costs stemming from his involvement within the Jan. 6 assault.
Alex Jones, the creator of Infowars, was completely banned in 2018 for abusive conduct. Final yr, Jones misplaced a defamation case filed by the dad and mom of kids killed within the 2012 Newtown, Connecticut, faculty capturing over Jones’ repeated claims that the capturing was pretend.
Twitter, Musk stated Tuesday, presently has a robust bias to the left, largely as a result of it’s positioned in San Francisco. This alleged bias prevents it from constructing belief in the remainder of the U.S. and the world, he stated: “It’s far too random and I feel Twitter must be far more even handed.”
Twitter declined to touch upon Musk’s remarks.
O’Brien reported from Windfall, Rhode Island; Krisher reported from Detroit. Related Press author David Klepper contributed from Windfall, Rhode Island.
See all of AP’s tech protection at https://apnews.com/hub/know-how.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This materials will not be printed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.