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Elon Musk’s hell as Twitter owner is just getting started

Officials from nations across the globe are beginning to voice discomfort over content moderation on the platform under Musk’s ownership. Playtime is over.


In his widely touted Verge article, “Welcome to hell, Elon,” writer Nilay Patel explains how Twitter owner Elon Musk could come to rue the day he acquired the social media platform, because managing it will force him to serve several masters. 

In one prescient passage, Patel explains that being required to institute policies to abide by various countries’ laws on hateful and misleading content (or content that oppressive rulers merely don’t like) will probably be one of Musk’s least favorite parts of the job. 

From the Verge article: 

[I]t gets worse the second you leave the United States! Germany is a huge market for Tesla. Are you going to flout Germany’s speech laws? I would bet not. The Indian government basically demands social media companies provide potential hostages in order to operate in that country; you can’t engineer your way out of that s---. Are you ready to experience the pressure Twitter faces in the Middle East to block and restrict accounts?

If this scenario — annoyed nations demanding content moderation — is hell, then things seem to be getting pretty hot for Musk, who this month dismissed several Twitter contractors responsible for tracking hate and abuse

This past weekend, New Zealand’s government had to notify Twitter about a video that had been uploaded to the platform depicting a white supremacist’s 2019 massacre at two mosques in Christchurch

“We will continue to maintain our expectation that [Twitter does] everything they can on a day-to-day basis to remove that content but also to reduce terrorist content and violent extremist content online, as they’ve committed to,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday, according to The Guardian

France has its eyes on Twitter as well, according to Reuters. On Monday, the outlet reported that the country’s tech regulation agency, Arcom, claims Twitter hasn’t been transparent about whether it will be able to abide by French law and adequately moderate misinformation after Musk’s drastic job cuts. Last week, French tech regulators sent a letter to Twitter expressing concerns over Musk’s job reductions, explaining how they could hamper users’ ability to find fact-based information and demanding the company prove it can comply with France’s misinformation regulations.

Prior to Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, the site was overrun with disinformation and hate speech

But Musk, who has contributed to that deluge with hateful conspiracy theories himself, has made himself a target of criticism by seeming indifferent — if not giddy — over the prospect that a platform he now owns could be used to fuel more of this behavior. 

But the world is taking note, it seems. And the giddy Musk may get more disgruntled as global leaders poke holes in his apparent plan for Twitter: becoming a site where lies and falsehoods can spread freely.