Elon Musk: the absolute influencer | News

If you’ve managed to follow the news through the tributes to Guy Lafleur, you might have seen that Elon Musk, the man behind Tesla, space all-inclusives and a big flamethrower company public, just got its hands on Twitter for the tidy sum of 44 billion US dollars. It’s expensive, wanting to become the ultimate influencer. A bit like the president of Remington said in his commercial for electric shavers: he liked the product so much that he bought the company.

Elon Musk presents himself as an absolutist of freedom of expression, a principle to which I adhere. Well I think. I have never known how to circumscribe my limits to freedom of expression. I definitely think we should have the right to shock (sometimes I like to shock). On the other hand, I tend to consider that freedom finds its limits in misinformation. We should be able to say anything, as long as we don’t spread lies. But there again, it is not easy to establish what constitutes a lie or not. Or to guess whether the lie is more of an honest mistake. In addition, some false information today may be truth tomorrow. In short, it is a very complex subject and it is difficult to pronounce categorically. I am less advanced in my reflection on this subject than at the beginning of this paragraph.

In any case, I am concerned that it is left to private companies to decide what can be published or not, censored or not. Even if I have no sympathy for Donald Trump, I have a hard time accepting that he was ousted from Twitter while the Taliban spokesman continues to be obscurantist there. There are undoubtedly many other small and large contradictions of the kind on social networks, and that is without counting the errors in the suspensions of accounts which did nothing wrong. We assume the good faith of these companies, but their main goal remains growth.

There is perhaps a parallel to be drawn with philanthropy. It’s hard to blame companies and the wealthy for giving to organizations that are close to their hearts. But here we are ceding society’s choice to favor one cause over another to interested donors, instead of letting those we have democratically elected decide on a fair distribution of resources where they are most needed.

As Professor Pierre Trudel pointed out, the “libertarian” Internet also tries to take shortcuts to override the laws of “real” life: “We are told that individual freedoms and the interests of ‘consumers’ are threatened by measures aimed at extending to Internet activities rules similar to those which apply to activities taking place outside the network. Applying to situations taking place on the Internet the laws on the protection of individuals against harassment or against scams would generate “hindrances to innovation” or threats to the security of the network! »

However, defamation is current on social networks and it harms as much, if not more, than elsewhere.

The Internet promised a sort of appropriation by all of the means of producing information. And that’s partly true. Marx would have been pleased. Anyone can produce content on the Internet inexpensively and become an influencer, a bestselling author or more often a troll. But those who own the platforms on which these content producers express themselves have a great deal of power.

Moreover, Elon Musk said recently that he did not want to acquire Twitter to make money: “My intuition is that it is extremely important for the future of civilization to have a reliable and inclusive public platform . I don’t care about the economy at all. As Professor Robert Reich points out in the Guardian, that’s all well and good, but who assigned Musk the task of deciding the future of civilization? Personally, I would have preferred the mandate to be given to someone more balanced, like Jesus, Gandhi or Patrick Bissonnette from District 31. According to Reich, Elon Musk’s goal is not freedom of expression for everyone, but for him. He wants to get out of laws and regulatory mechanisms. And that’s more disturbing than having the freedom to compare Justin Trudeau to Hitler, as he did recently.

Despite the beautiful principles, I doubt people will decide to boycott Twitter. Some have already noted numerous tweets from users threatening to quit Twitter if Musk took over. Perhaps the same people who promised to move to Canada if Trump was elected. But too many of Musk’s critics have gotten too many retweets to dispense with the repercussions their witticisms bring to the so-called global conversation. Moreover, TikTok remains immensely popular despite the fact that the application is controlled by China, Facebook is the largest network even if Mark Zuckerberg is not a particularly benevolent being, and what about Truth Social? Nothing, if possible. All this does not encourage many people to leave these platforms to return to express themselves on the steps of the church where the audience is often limited to a few passers-by and to God (who is everywhere). Twitter was already unlivable before it was acquired by Musk and I have a feeling it will continue to be.

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