If two European ministers are to be believed, Elon Musk has agreed to censorship restrictions on free speech for Twitter in Europe.
Just after Tesla and Twitter CEO Elon Musk’s promotion of a Chinese executive to head of Tesla operations in the United States raised eyebrows, Musk again seems to be appeasing anti-freedom governments. While Germany and France are certainly not Communist China, their planned censorship laws are still concerning. And Elon Musk apparently agreed to restrict Twitter content based on European Union (EU) demands.
Of course, Twitter has to abide by the laws in the countries where it operates (though the European laws aren’t in effect yet). But when Musk gives in immediately whenever a censorship law is passed, that’s a sobering precedent to Twitter users in the states — our free speech on Twitter apparently depends on the government. Meanwhile, the Biden administration’s recent attempt at forming a Disinformation Governance Board and revelations of government censorship pressure in the Twitter Files indicate just how protected free speech is from that quarter.
French Minister for Digital Transition and Telecommunications Jean-Noël Barrot tweeted on Jan. 7 (Twitter’s translation), “At Twitter headquarters, @elonmusk confirmed to me its intention to comply with European rules, and its commitments on content moderation, the fight against disinformation and child protection. In line with its exchange with [French President] @EmmanuelMacron.” Barrot included a picture of him talking with Elon Musk.
The German Federal Minister for Digital and Transport Volker Wissing claimed on Jan. 4 in a tweet with a selfie of him and Musk (Twitter’s translation), “Thank you @elonmusk for a constructive conversation in San Francisco. My stance is clear: the platforms’ commitment to #D[i]sinformation must be strictly adhered to until #DSA comes into force. Elon Musk agreed with me.”
The DSA (Digital Services Act) is set to increase content moderation online. Unfortunately, the past few years and the Twitter Files taught us that “content moderation” too often means “censorship of narratives leftists don’t like.”
The EU website says, “The Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act [DMA] aim to create a safer digital space where the fundamental rights of users are protected and to establish a level playing field for businesses.” Very idealistic words, but don’t be fooled.
As Breitbart noted back in April 2022, the DSA’s targeting of “illegal content” includes “hate speech” and “disinformation,” favorite leftist catchphrases to justify censoring whatever they dislike. After all, in the United States, insisting a woman cannot be a man has been considered hate speech. Both the DMA and DSA are potentially dangerous to free speech, according to the Media Research Center.
Elon Musk’s own views on the EU laws are unclear, since he does not seem to have issued any statements himself. This could mean anything from unhappy agreement to cheerful acquiescence, of course. Considering his often–expressed views on the importance of free speech and the release of the Twitter Files under his leadership, Musk presumably sees content moderation as a potentially dangerous vehicle of censorship.
This is a battle for the future of civilization. If free speech is lost even in America, tyranny is all that lies ahead.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 29, 2022
The Twitter Files on free speech suppression soon to be published on Twitter itself. The public deserves to know what really happened …
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 28, 2022
On the other hand, Musk’s pandering to Communist China on behalf of Tesla indicates that he sometimes puts his professed principles aside to convince governments to approve his businesses.