Elon Musk discovers that the Twitter casino is played | Technology
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There hasn’t been a day for a few weeks that we haven’t spent a moment with Elon Musk. He bought 9% of Twitter. He announced that he would be part of his board of directors only to later regret it. He launched a hostile takeover bid against the company that gave in sooner than expected. The price was unbeatable, so Silicon Valley shareholders who are not in organizations for the love of the brand precisely decided to sell and pass the brownie to a megalomaniac looking for a little house. The news of the sale to Musk of Twitter flooded the digital agora and all the media, less and less printed, with debates about whether the moderation rules imply a decrease in freedom of expression or if they are a necessary behavior management system and not censorship of opinions. We find ourselves talking about the privatization of the agora and how a global company that is owed to its shareholders, which is accessed by accepting a contract that no one has read, but no less binding for that, regulates the fundamental right to freedom of expression while being legally irresponsible for the content of its users (not customers).
Shoshana Zuboff, author of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Struggle for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power posted, guess what, on Twitter, a thread in this regard, in which he pointed out that this mere discussion is a manifestation of how lost we are: “People, society and democracy are at the mercy of individuals who exercise ownership and/or executive control of information. Mr. Musk wants to join the gods who rule the information space and control the answers to the essential questions of knowledge, authority, and power in our time: Who knows? Who decides who knows? Who decides who decides? But we have never chosen them to govern. We need laws, not men.”
We were mired in that mud for a few days, reading Elon’s tweets and his replies. The owner of Tesla promised to end bots, false accounts, hate, while promising to lift a good part of the content moderation limitations. The alt-right American, a hodgepodge of Trump supporters, QAnons, flat-Earthers, anti-vaccines, and white supremacists, rejoiced at the good news.
As in a disaster movie, in which the plot moves to another place where the protagonists look warily at the sky, knowing that they are going to die because they are secondary, Europe reached a political agreement on the Digital Service Act (DSA ) or, as it has been translated into Spanish, LSD (Digital Services Law). The joke makes itself. The LSD establishes a multitude of obligations for the platforms —which include the providers of social network platforms— as is the case with Twitter. Among them, those that allow users and civil society to challenge moderation decisions, those that facilitate access for authorized researchers and NGOs to the fundamental data of the largest platforms in order to better understand the evolution of risks, as well as those that oblige service providers to implement transparency measures in matters such as content or product recommendation algorithms. Its main architect, Thierry Breton, European Market Commissioner and former head of Atos, announced the great advantages of the new standard, which are not few. “With the Digital Services Law,” Breton said, “the time when the big online platforms behaved as if they were ‘too big to care’ is coming to an end.”
So empowered was Breton with the agreement that took so long to arrive that he snapped at Musk on, of course, Twitter “be it cars or digital platforms, any company operating in Europe must comply with our standards. Regardless of property. Mr. Musk knows this very well. He knows the rules of the cars and will quickly adapt to the DSA”.
No sooner said than done. The teacher hit the student with the ruler in his hand and the student, solicitous, got ready to make the ball and say yes to everything. Again, the bromance It was staged on Twitter. The former Atos boss accompanied Musk on a visit to a Tesla factory in Austin “Today Elon Musk and I want to share a quick message about the EU regulation on #DSA platforms”. And there came the reverence. Elon meek as a lamb, he did not get off the yes to everything, leaving his neck with so much assent. In case anyone had any doubts, he replied to Breton’s tweet with another “Big meeting. We strongly agree”. The infatuation was short-lived. A few days later she announced that she would return the account to Donald Trump so that he could comfortably finish what began with the seizure of the US Congress on January 6, 2021.
But this comedy of entanglement does not end there. The US Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the reason for Elon Musk’s delay in disclosing his involvement in Twitter, which could lead to a penalty of more than $100 million. A ridiculous amount compared to the more than $30 billion that has vanished from his net worth as Tesla shares plunged as China’s covid-19 restrictions affect production and sales of Tesla in that country. Recall that Musk sold 8.6 billion shares of Tesla to pay for part of the purchase operation, although he financed the bulk of the operation with his assets, which has been drastically reduced in recent days.
To finish? this crazy script, Elon temporarily suspends the purchase of the actions of the blue bird because, suddenly, it has fallen in that the same there are many accounts that are spam or false.
Elon bought Twitter to put an end to the bots that were making the network work so poorly and he left because, look, there are bots on this network. Musk, in an unexpected script twist, manages to combine in a single tweet the fable of the fox and the grapes, and the “-What a scandal! I have discovered that here is played -Your winnings, Sir” from the movie White House.
All of us have dedicated more time to it than it undoubtedly deserves. You, reader, by completing this chronicle with your time, and I by documenting myself to write it. But it’s not our fault. Not all at least. The information is offered to us at full speed in bursts of light that we follow like stunned dogs, addicted to not missing anything, junkies of the dopamine cycle to which the technological ones have hooked us. We don’t give things time for the dust to settle. But we have a lot at stake. There is no freedom of expression without a free space to exercise it. And it cannot be exercised properly when the public debate has moved to a private environment, subject to contractual rules, and to the unappealable decision of an unknown group of moderators and algorithms. Let’s take back the agora and we won’t care what Elon does with his money anymore.
Paloma Llaneza Gonzalez She is a lawyer, essayist and ikebanaka. She has a degree in Law from the Complutense University and a Diploma in Higher European Studies from the College of Europe in Bruges. She has been practicing as a lawyer, auditor and drafter of standards in Spain, Europe and the USA. She is the author of ‘Datanomics’ (Planeta-Deusto) and the novel ‘Appetite for Risk’ (Books.com)
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