Did you find Elon Musk’s libertarian view of free speech a bit naïve? The entrepreneur who is about to buy Twitter, intends to realize the full potential of the network in this regard by probably reducing moderation and in particular by putting an end to the definitive exclusions of the most controversial accounts. Voices like Alex Jones and even Donald Trump could thus return to Twitter.
These changes worry those who precisely call for a more civilized social network, and respectful of the sensitivities of each one. They have already led the European authorities to issue a warning. Of course, Elon Musk will have to face reality – he is likely to learn a lot about the nature of freedom of expression, and the need, sometimes, for very active moderation to avoid abuses…
Criticizing Tesla exposes Chinese customers to legal action
And make no mistake about it: this acquisition probably hides other motivations distinct from the defense of freedom of expression. Nevertheless, there is something very paradoxical between this very libertarian discourse and the reality of the action of the companies he directs. Example with Tesla in China. The manufacturer has just been the subject of yet another recall of 127,785 Model 3 units.
A reminder that has drawn a lot of criticism in a country that is not normally known for freedom of expression. One of the issues that prompted the recall was with the brakes. Many Chinese have accused the firm of having indirectly caused serious accidents. What prompted Tesla to react strongly against this wave of criticism
The firm has thus filed a complaint against two of its clients and an influencer, and is now attacking a major telecom group boss – who dared to defend a client. The latter, Zhang Yazhou, had decided to express her anger against the manufacturer on April 19, 2021 on the sidelines of the Auto Shanghai show. To be heard, the client was mounted on the roof of a Tesla in exhibition with a T-Shirt bearing the words “the brakes do not work”.
Zhang Yazhou blames brake problems on Chinese Model 3s for causing a serious accident involving his father two months earlier. Tesla’s rather haughty response was to completely refute Zhang Yazhou’s claims, presented as an organized action to damage Tesla’s image – while adding that the firm would not respond to any “unreasonable requests”. .
This response sparked strong reactions in China, including CCTime CEO Xiang Ligang. The latter thus has “expressed anger and frustration at Tesla’s arrogance […] and communication with customers that lacked professionalism” as reported by Global Times. This earned him too being dragged to court by the builder.
For this, Tesla does not hesitate to use the Chinese legal system. Xiang Ligang will be tried like the other defendants before the Beijing Internet Court, which specializes in all first-instance civil cases arising from actions on the web.