” Freedom of expression is the foundation of democracy, and Twitter is a digital agora that discusses issues vital to the future of our humanity. We cannot accuse Elon Musk of not playing fair. The richest man in the world is happy to share his vision of the future management of the platform. An advocate of extreme liberalism, he announces that he wants to remove any obstacle to speaking out.
During a conference organized by the Financial Times on May 10, he even called the permanent suspension of Donald Trump’s Twitter account a decision. ” morally bad Will the boss of Tesla and Space X be able to do without hesitation what he wants with Twitter?
What does the First Amendment to the Constitution say?
If the first amendment to the US Constitution (” Congress will not pass a law […] which restricts freedom of speech or press. ”) Is known to all, it should be borne in mind that it is not applicable to all situations.
We thought it would probably encourage and inspire people to replicate the crimes that took place in the American Capitol on January 6, 2021. Twitter in response to the removal of Donald Trump from the network on January 9, 2021
” Initially, this text did not concern [donc] than laws passed by Congress. Over time, the Supreme Court has extended this protection to other branches of government, whether federal, state and local, legislative, executive, or judicial. » explains in an article in The Conversation, Jérôme Viala-Gaudefroy, a professor specializing in American Studies in Sciences by Saint-Germain-en Laye. ” By the way, we note that this right, therefore, does not apply to private entities, such as social networks, which can exercise their freedom of trade as they see fit.“
Let’s take a look at the current rules imposed by Twitter. The platform lists everything on its website. ” violations code of good conduct. They are characterized as such if they relate to violence (“prohibition of threats or use of violence against a person “), to terrorism prohibition of threats of terrorism or violent extremism “), Harassment it is forbidden to engage in targeted harassment of others, as well as to encourage them to do so “) or hate behavior prohibition of incitement to violence “).
The reason for Trump’s Twitter ban
It was this last offense that was attributed to Donald Trump on January 9, 2021, causing him to be kicked out of the net. ” The 75,000,000 great American patriots who voted for me, America first, and Make America Great Again will have a huge voice in the future. They will not be viewed with contempt or unfairness in any way !!! “, Tweeted the then former president of the United States.
With another announcement, these were perceived as a call for violence, later justified by the social network: ” We thought it would probably encourage and inspire people to replicate the crimes that took place in the American Capitol on January 6, 2021. “.
See also: United States: What are the reactions to the closure of Trump’s Facebook and Twitter accounts?
The EU does not give its blank check to Elon Musk
NGOs were quick to express concern over the change in Elon Musk’s rules for using the network. If he allows Donald Trump to come back, ” Elon Musk would open the door to hate speech and disinformation on Twitter “, Threatens Angelo Carusone, director of the media defense NGO Media Matters for America.
What’s worse, other personalities, including far-rightists, would be allowed to return to Twitter. This would create “perverse pressure“on other social networks like Facebook,”start the race to the bottomHe fears.
Another actor who opposed Elon Musk’s libertarian tendencies: the European Union. Unlike the United States, Europe has a set of legal frameworks in the digital field, imposed on every company that wants to establish its market in Europe.
It is in this perspective (we remind you) that Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, went to visit Elon Musk at his Tesla factory in Austin, Texas. In particular, he came to present a completely new European regulation aimed at increasing repression against certain abuses.
” I was pleased to come and introduce you to the DSA (Digital Services Act). Now that you understand that, I think it fits in perfectly with your vision of the platform! “Says the commissioner in front of the camera. ” I think it’s perfectly aligned. I agree with you in all your points, to be honest. “, Elon Musk answers laconically.
Hate on the Internet is a special area mentioned in the latest European project. In particular, it imposes obligations on online platforms and messaging systems that do not implement effective moderation systems. Non-compliance can result in fines of up to 6% of the company’s global turnover or even a ban on doing business in the EU single market.
Different interpretations of freedom of expression
Elon Musk’s latest outings have worried many, but he says he does not want to go beyond the law. According to him, the abolition of the expulsion of the former president “it does not mean that everyone can say what they want, if they tell the world something illegal or destructive“, He pointed out, a destructive term can be left to interpretation. But I think permanent bans fundamentally undermine trust in Twitter as a public place where everyone can express their opinion. ” he perseveres.
Is he saying that the current president who incites his supporters to violence or rebellion is an acceptable practice on Twitter? Suzanne Nossel, director of PEN America
The billionaire also mentioned that he prefers temporary rather than permanent suspensions or deleting the most problematic tweets. But for PEN America’s director of freedom of expression, Suzanne Nossel, the businessman must clarify his message: ” Is he saying that nothing that Trump or anyone else could tweet would be the basis for a permanent dismissal? (…) Does he say that the current president who incites his supporters to violence or rebellion is an acceptable practice on Twitter? » she wondered.
If European legislation is among the most restrictive, US law can leave room for many interpretations. As Professor Jérôme Viala-Gaudefroy reminds us: “ The liberal interpretation of the First Amendment also served to protect the Ku Klux Klan’s hate speech, as stated in 1969 Brandenburg v. Ohio, a decision that sets a precedent today. »
Following this verdict, it was declared that extreme speech that incites hatred or discrimination against certain groups, but does not encourage “direct illegal act”, will not constitute a violation of the First Amendment to the Constitution. In the case of digital, characterizing the illegality of a hate message or violence on Twitter could therefore lead to lengthy debates in the U.S. judiciary.
As Jérôme Viala-Gaudefroy argues, freedom of expression remains a fluid concept in the United States today: “ One of the lessons of the history of free speech in the United States is that it is therefore not engraved, that standards are changing and can be changed again. »