Elon Musk makes a gesture that will reassure advertisers

Elon Musk is at the head of an empire which gives him considerable influence throughout the world.

He is the CEO of Tesla (TSLA) – Get a free report, the company dominating the electric vehicle industry. The demand for its vehicles has increased sharply with the need to reduce CO2 emissions everywhere on the planet.

Musk is also the boss of SpaceX, the aerospace company, whose Starlink service has become a hope for people living under oppressive regimes. Stralink provides independent and secure Internet access via satellite. Its success in Ukraine contributed to its popularity in countries like Cuba and Iran, and even in China.

To this already enormous influence, Musk has now added Twitter (TWTR) – Get a free report. The social network is considered the public square of our time. The place where information travels very quickly and where the agenda of issues deemed important is often determined.

Hellscape?

With the importance of the platform comes great responsibility. And this is expressed in the content policy of the microblogging website. Basically what is acceptable on the platform. Musk has never made a secret of being a “free speech absolutist”. This means he believes anything is okay, as long as it doesn’t break the law. The problem is that this stance scares off corporations, civil rights groups and politicians who fear it will turn Twitter into “hell.”

Advertisers have therefore put pressure on the billionaire, by suspending their advertising spots, while waiting to see which direction he intends to take. Civil rights groups have also warned of an upsurge in hateful, racist and anti-Semitic posts since Musk took over Twitter on Oct. 27.

The European Union has already told Musk that Twitter will have to abide by its rules, which aim to make the internet a “safer space for users.”

“In Europe, the bird will fly according to our rules 🇪🇺,” said Thierry Breton, the European commissioner for the internal market, on October 28. He added the hashtag “#DSA”.

DSA refers to the Digital Services Act, a law passed last January by the European Parliament, to regulate the Internet.

The EU wants what is prohibited offline to be prohibited online as well.

The law requires social networks to set up a “button” allowing users to report offensive content. It should be easy to access and easy to use. In other words, you don’t have to click 36,000 times to trigger a report. clearly asked to dedicate resources to better moderate their networks, that is to say to erase illicit content (homophobic, racist, pornographic, illegal products, etc.).

The law will take effect in 2024 and provides for fines of up to 6% of a platform’s overall revenue.

‘Absolutely’

It is in this context that Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, has just launched an initiative aimed at better protecting children against predators, pedophiles and online abuse and bullying.

To do this, Macron needs the collaboration of the main players who dominate the Internet. He managed to convince TikTok, Meta Platforms (META) – Get a free report and Google (GOOG) – Get a free report, the main competitors of Twitter. But aware that his initiative would have limited success if one of the major players did not participate, Macron contacted Musk directly.

“We must better protect our children on social networks and the Internet!” said the French president on Twitter on November 10. “To protect our children on the Internet, we need to better verify users’ ages, better detect and stop sexual predators, and better identify and address harassment. We need to be more effective at removing content.”

He continues: “Together with our partners, today we are launching the Children Online Protection Lab. France, Estonia, New Zealand, Amazon, Dailymotion, Meta, Microsoft, Alphabet, Snap, TikTok and Qwant have signed up. Join us!”

Macron then directly asked if Twitter would join the initiative: “👋 @elonmusk, Will the bird protect our children?”

“Absolutely,” Musk replied in French. The word means absolutely.

The billionaire’s engagement is not a big surprise. Last September, he was outraged after research by Ghost Data showed that Twitter was placing marketing campaigns from automaker Mazda, Dyson and chemical company Ecolab alongside tweets soliciting child pornography.

More than 30 brands ranging from Walt Disney to Coca-Cola to NBC Universal had ads appearing on Twitter account pages alongside content promoting child pornography, said Reuters which reviewed the findings of a study from cybersecurity firm Ghost Data on online child sexual abuse.

“Extremely concerning,” commented Musk, 51, father of nine, at the time.

The company said in its Transparency Reports, published last July, that it “suspended 596,997 unique accounts during this reporting period – a 32% increase since our previous report.”

The report covers the period July-December 2021.

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