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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Under Elon Musk, Twitter approved 83% of authoritarian government censorship requests.

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Since Elon Musk acquired Twitter in a whopping $44 billion deal that was completed last October, the social network has barely met requests to restrict or censor content in countries such as Turkey and India, which recently Has passed laws restricting freedom of free speech and expression. t refuse. The billionaire owner of SpaceX and Tesla presents himself as having freedom of speech, but the social network he controls succumbed to hundreds of government mandates in the first six months, according to data provided by the company to public audits Are. Government or judge’s pressure on online platform. The most recent example was the blocking of accounts critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, two days before Turkey went to the polls last Sunday.

In India, which has been caught in an authoritarian drift that has suppressed the press, journalists and critical voices for months, Twitter has also been banned by the government. To justify the agreement, Musk put his employees at risk by saying, “India has very strict rules on what can be displayed on social media and we cannot go beyond the laws of the country.” , “If our people have a choice between going to jail or following the law, we will follow the law.” The legalization came after Twitter removed content related to a highly critical BBC documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which was blocked by the Indian government in January.

Musk said he did not know “exactly what happened” regarding the status of the material in India, but it appears New Delhi has instructed Twitter to remove all posts containing images or video links from the documentary . During the 2002 riots in Gujarat, where nationalist Modi was the state’s prime minister, at least 1,000 Muslims were killed (activists put the figure at 2,500). Among the content removed by Twitter was a comment from a local MLA.

According to the NGO Reporters Without Borders, press freedom has declined dramatically in India, falling 8 places from the previous year to 150th place in the international ranking. There have been a number of incidents including a raid and seizure of two local BBC offices after tax officials blocked the documentary in a raid. In Turkey, most state media is controlled by the government, and opposition parties have accused the Erdogan administration of trying to control the social network, the last bastion of critical voices.

Twitter’s endorsement of autocratic or non-liberal regimes by critics of the social network is no exaggeration. The data that Public Audit automatically receives is self-explanatory. Since Musk’s acquisition, the company has received 971 requests from the government (only 338 in the six months from October 2021 to April 2022), of which 808 were fully approved and 154 were partially approved . Prior to Musk’s acquisition of control, Twitter agreed to 50% of those requests, based on compliance rates shown in the company’s last transparency report (not published since October 2022). That number rose to 83% after the change in ownership, according to a data analysis by tech information portal Rest of the World.

The simple meaning of ‘freedom of speech’ is to obey the law. I am against censorship which is beyond the law. If people want less free speech, they will ask the government to pass laws to that effect. So going beyond the law is against the will of the people,” Musk wrote on Twitter in April 2022. However, this is by far the most complex formulation for this problem. Musk also said that it would be better to censor some than to shut down Twitter for everyone. Or in his own words, “The new Twitter policy is freedom of expression, but not freedom of access.”

On May 12, two days before Turkey’s elections, Twitter’s Global Governance account announced that it had suspended some operations in Turkey “to respond to the legal process and to ensure that Turkish people can continue to use Twitter”. Took action today to restrict access to the content.” “…a country still visible to the rest of the world. The statement did not specify which accounts would be blocked for what reason. According to critics, those accusing Erdogan and his party colleagues of corruption Profiles were affected, with some pro-Kurdish accounts and others making statements critical of the 2016 coup. In a similar move against nongovernmental organizations and public universities in Russia and Hungary, Ankara has called for a national Errors to combat foreign influence in the media. In February, access to Twitter was briefly blocked following a devastating earthquake in the southeast and neighboring Syria. Wikipedia was banned in the past, but the government later reversed this decision.

“On the eve of a crucial election in Turkey, Twitter appears to be capitulating to the demands of the country’s dictator, Erdogan, and censor speech on its platform. Given Twitter’s complete lack of transparency, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Musk’s promise of free speech has again collapsed. For Musk, free speech sounds more like a slogan than a principle, but his credentials are becoming increasingly clear. From an early and distant Democratic perspective, Musk urged Republican support in the US midterm elections in November.

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