One of many key questions posed early on round Elon Musk’s ‘free speech’ led takeover at Twitter was: ‘What’s going to Elon do when authorities requests come from areas the place Musk’s different enterprise, Tesla, has a vested curiosity?’
Tesla, for instance, is heavily reliant on China for each gross sales and elements manufacturing, whereas it’s additionally seeking to increase its presence in India and Turkey. The governments in every of those areas have often sought to limit speech, on Twitter and in different varieties, which has put them at odds with social platform administration prior to now.
So how has Twitter 2.0 dealt with the identical?
Because it seems, Elon has opted to adjust to pretty much every government request, with a latest report displaying that Twitter is now complying with such at a a lot larger price than earlier Twitter administration.
As reported by El Pais:
“Since Musk’s takeover, the corporate has obtained 971 requests from governments (in comparison with solely 338 within the six-month interval from October 2021 to April 2022), totally acceding to 808 of them and partially acceding to 154. Within the yr previous to Musk taking management, Twitter agreed to 50% of such requests, consistent with the compliance price indicated within the firm’s final transparency report (none have been printed since October 2022). Following the change of possession, that determine has risen to 83%.”
In response, Musk has stated that Twitter has no choice but to comply with such, as these are ruled by the legal guidelines in every area, and Twitter will at all times align with native legal guidelines.
However as famous, Twitter has held agency on such requests prior to now. In June final yr, for instance, the Indian Authorities referred to as on Twitter to ban varied Pakistani-linked profiles resulting from authorities dissent. Twitter challenged those bans in court, placing it in battle with the Indian authorities – which additionally put the app prone to an area ban, one thing that’s been held over Twitter varied occasions prior to now, when it’s refused to cede to requests from the Indian authorities.
Twitter was briefly banned in Turkey in 2014 for a similar, after refusing to adjust to censorship requests from the Turkish authorities, which has since seen Turkish authorities implement new laws on what social platforms can and cannot publish.
So whereas Musk’s proper that Twitter is aligning with native authorities, it does have the capability to take a stronger stance on such, particularly the place such requests are in opposition to native legal guidelines, which a few of these newer requests have reportedly been. And given Musk’s public campaigning free of charge speech, you may count on Twitter 2.0 to be extra inclined to struggle again for the rights of its customers – however so far, that doesn’t look like the case.
In fact, Twitter doesn’t need to. As Musk notes, the danger right here is that if Twitter doesn’t comply, it might face bans in every area, and normally, according to Elon, it’s higher to censor somewhat content material so as to guarantee ongoing entry for all customers.
Twitter doesn’t need to struggle each case that comes up, however its broad compliance does appear to battle along with his personal broader push free of charge and open speech – particularly while you additionally contemplate that Musk has been extremely important of previous Twitter administration for purportedly working with US authorities to mitigate the unfold of misinformation, which he’s deemed as an act of censorship.
Looks as if that’s not rather a lot completely different to those requests, however as with most of Musk’s approaches, his strikes are largely decided by his personal expertise, and what he sees as problematic based mostly on his personal ideological perspective. On this situation, international interference is seemingly much less of a priority, as a result of it doesn’t influence him – whereas there are additionally the aforementioned conflicts of curiosity with Tesla.
Price noting too that Musk has additionally overseen the elimination of previous restrictions on Chinese language and Russian state media accounts.
Taking possession of a large-scale media platform was at all times going to be a problem for Elon on this respect, given the varied plates he has spinning at anybody time, and there have been at all times going to be requests that seemingly battle along with his personal beliefs, however would must be seen along with his broader enterprise pursuits in thoughts.
Elon’s view is that he’ll align with the federal government of the day, and cling to requests as they’re submitted – although I do wonder if he would really feel the identical if, say, the US authorities have been to submit related, and the way that may change his perspective.
Both manner, it’s a difficult aspect, which Musk will at all times face difficulties in managing. However proper now, evidently his method shall be to approve extra authorities censorship requests, versus pushing again towards authoritarian management.