Why experts fear that Musk will reduce moderation on Twitter if he buys the social network | Technology

Elon Musk’s proposal for the total purchase of Twitter is surrounded by doubts about what will change in the social network if the deal goes through. The billionaire did not give details about what his plans are, but signals that he intends to change the platform’s content moderation rules.

In recent weeks, Musk has been using his profile on the platform to comment on the matter. He published a poll asking users whether Twitter strictly adheres to freedom of expression and questioned whether a new social network would be needed to guarantee this principle.

For experts heard by g1, the deal could cause a slackening in the moderation of content on Twitter.

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“He [Elon Musk] makes it clear that it is against content moderation and understands that these processes clash with freedom of expression”, says Flávia Lefèvre Guimarães, a lawyer specializing in digital law and a member of the Coalizão Direitos na Rede.

Pedro Waengertner, founder of ACE, an innovation investment holding company, believes that Musk sees a biased moderation on Twitter and understands that, if the acquisition is completed, the alleged bias could be maintained, but with a changed sign.

“If he wants to take the company where the governance requirements that Twitter has for being a publicly traded company don’t exist, there’s a risk that the exact same thing will happen. [viés na moderação] with other rules”, says Waengertner.

What is the risk of less moderation?

Twitter allows you to report content for a variety of reasonsincluding violence, sexual content and abusive behavior. In January, the social network added an option for users in Brazil to flag tweets with fake news.

Experts expect that this path could change if the company is acquired by Musk, a critic of how the social network deals with the right of users to express themselves.

  • Understand the controversies of Musk on Twitter

Elon Musk — Photo: Patrick Pleul/Reuters

The justification of offering more freedom of expression can become a pass for users to commit crimes and spread hate and disinformation on the platform, says Flávia Lefèvre Guimarães.

“As content moderation and the decision on which content will have more or less relevance is based on the economic power of some agents, you cannot say that all users of this platform are on an equal footing to exercise the right to freedom of expression”, he points out.

To GloboNews, Carlos Affonso de Souza, director of the Instituto Tecnologia e Sociedade (ITS Rio), stated that it is necessary to protect the activity of content moderation. He also highlighted that the debate on freedom of expression cannot be confused with the absence of any form of control.

“In the case of Elon Musk, this idea that by giving a lot of money you can get out of the way any moderation activity is going to turn Twitter into something that is not Twitter. And something that, in the end, can even be unwanted for an important part of the users”, he highlighted.

Musk’s investments in Twitter would reduce advertising, but also moderation, says Carlos Affonso de Souza (ITS Rio)

Souza assessed that people want platforms where they feel safe and indicated that if Elon Musk buys Twitter and reduces moderation, the social network could lose many users. The assessment is shared by Guimarães.

“No one wants to use a service that isn’t secure,” he says. According to her, if the deal goes through, the trend is that “there will be an expansion of malicious users” and, on the other hand, a departure from those who want to have a minimum of security and see their rights respected.

For Pedro Waengertner, there is a chance that Twitter will be able to advance if it is bought by the founder of Tesla and SpaceX. He considers that the billionaire may be planning to adopt technology to improve content moderation.

“I understand that he would create forms with engineering to allow people to have a plurality of opinions within established rules”, says Waengertner.

Twitter — Photo: REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo

Last Thursday (14), at a TED event, Musk said he doesn’t want to “make money” with the purchase of Twitter. According to him, the social network is an important tool for freedom of expression in the world.

“It’s really important that people have the reality and perceptions [sobre a realidade] and that they are able to express themselves freely within the limits of the law,” Musk said.

During the event, the tycoon stated on more than one occasion that any social network must comply with the laws of the countries in which they operate. “Obviously, there are some limitations on freedom of expression,” he commented.

Musk has owned a 9.2% stake in Twitter since March, when he became the company’s largest single shareholder. The possibility that he will become the sole owner of the brand has generated a reaction from Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the main investors in the social network.

Amid doubts about the acquisition, Twitter’s Board of Directors approved its “poison pill”, a mechanism used by publicly traded companies to protect minority shareholders against takeover attempts.

  • What are ‘poison pills’, protection mechanism against ‘hostile’ takeovers of companies

Last Wednesday (14), the billionaire said he has a ‘plan B’ if he can’t buy the social network. But he said details about that alternative are “for another time.”

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