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EU commission warns Musk won’t have free rein of Twitter

The Tesla chief has acquired Twitter for $46bn and plans to re-evaluate the platform’s stance on free speech and cancel culture. The EU commission now warns that any plans to loosen moderation policies must be handled carefully and that Musk won’t be given free rein.

The drawn out Twitter saga has finally reached its end. Sort of.

Serial entrepreneur Elon Musk has officially secured ownership of the platform, fronting $21bn himself, pledging $12bn through a Tesla loan, and utilising partner banks for a further 13bn in debt financing – the overall purchase came out at a cool $46bn.

Insert lame joke about how we all downloaded it for free. How original, how clever!

Exactly what the world’s second richest man plans to do with his new purchase, nobody quite knows. We’ve had some general tweets mentioning defeating spam bots, introducing human authentication, potentially an edit button, and open source algorithms, but Musk has yet to announce anything concrete.

What we have heard is that the crux of his pitch deck, being a self-proclaimed ‘free speech absolutist,’ reportedly involved loosening the current moderation policies at play on the bird app.

Clearly buoyed by his purchase, the new Twitter chief put out a slew of rousing (or self-righteous) – depending on your inclination – tweets on Monday. Within them, he described free speech as ‘the bedrock of a functioning democracy,’ before later expressing his desire to turn Twitter into a ‘digital town hall where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.’

Would certainly make for an interesting lunch time scroll, right? We’ll have some of that.

In the wider landscape of Big Tech, however, there are potential hiccups when considering how Musk’s ideas will stack up with stricter standards of digital policing just brought into effect by EU legislators?

Under this now firmer umbrella, user data safety must take precedence, and obligations to prevent the spread of hate speech and misinformation will have to be fulfilled. Any prospective buyer simply cannot go rogue with the online platforms we all use simply because they’ve outbid the rest.

One of Europe’s most influential digital regulators, Thierry Breton, offered a recent ‘reality check’ to Musk, stating: You are welcome, but these are our rules. It’s not your rules which will apply here.’

Ultimately, social media chiefs are still governed by the Digital Services Act and the likes of Google, Facebook, and Twitter are all mandated to show (on demand) how they’re complying. Quite frankly, no one is popping their heads above the parapet right now to loosen moderations, except Musk.

Public reaction to this news has gone about exactly as you’d expect. Those of lefty influence are deactivating in record numbers, and those from the right are re-joining in droves according to data from The Verge.

Many of those excited by the prospect of this new leadership believe that cutthroat cancel culture will finally die off on Twitter, whilst the opposition point to potential confusion over how hate speech and harmful propaganda will be nipped in the bud.

In his aim of making everyone completely trust Twitter (good luck), Musk declares that the app must be politically neutral, effectively ‘upsetting the far right and the far left equally.’ That’s something, at least.

Exactly how he’ll achieve this digital utopia in his tenure remains to be seen, on Twitter of all places. One thing’s for sure though, confusing crypto memes nobody understands will be trending even more often now.

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