Elon Musk doesn’t know what it takes to make a digital town square
It was in 2009 when the power of Twitter really became evident. As some Iranians tweeted through the country’s elections during a media blackout, the site began to emerge as a critical tool of global activists. Later movements, including the 2011 Egyptian revolution and the Movement for Black Lives, relied on Twitter to disseminate information and gain supporters. If the platform’s new official “Chief Twit” Elon Musk sticks to his stated plans to overhaul a series of platform policies, these very users—arguably the users who made Twitter what it is—could face the most risk. For one thing, the company has long resisted censorship demands from authoritarian countries that don’t comport with human rights standards. But Musk’s idea of following local laws as guidance for what’s allowed on Twitter—he has said it should “hew close to the laws of countries in which Twitter operates”—could mean that the company will begin complying with censorship policies and demands for user data that it has previously withstood. For example, Qatar—whose government is one of Musk’s financial backers—has a law that threatens imprisonment or fines to “anyone who broadcasts, publishes, or republishes false or biased rumors, statements, or news, or inflammatory propaganda, domestically or abroad, with the intent to harm national interests, stir up public opinion, or infringe on the social system or the public system of the state.” The potential abuses of this law are myriad.
Via: MIT Technology Review