Free Speech Absolutist playing both sides.
Elon Musk has repeatedly called himself a champion of free speech. Certainly he appears to have relaxed Twitter rules around 'hate speech' with his recent appearance on the BBC providing yet another opportunity to burnish his bona fides in this regard.
But it has emerged that, despite Musk's claims, he is a signatory of the European Union’s so-called ‘Code of Practice on Disinformation’ which requires Twitter to censor what it determines is ‘mis-‘ and ‘disinformation’.
And ‘require’ here means require. it is not a 'nice to have' addition to Twitter, The EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA) renders the commitments undertaken in the Code mandatory on pain of massive fines. Elon Musk has repeatedly flagged not only his compliance with, but indeed his full approval of the DSA.
Even more worryingly; Twitter is still an active member of a Permanent Task-Force on ‘disinformation’ set up under the Code and that meets at least every six months, as well as in sub-groups in between the plenary sessions (see Section IX of the Code, which is available here).
The task-force is chaired by none other than the EU’s executive body, the European Commission: the very same European Commission that the DSA invests with the exclusive power to assess compliance with the Code and apply penalties if a platform is found to be wanting.
Experts are reporting that censorship is still being performed on Twitter, the change has been to the algorithm which now simply 'shadow bans' the post rather than banning the user outright. According to those in the know, shadow banning is now very much the norm on Twitter.
Musk hinted at this when asked about free speech in November saying: "freedom of speech is not freedom of reach" meaning you can post what you like to Twitter, but they won't show it to anyone else if they don't what you've said. You, meanwhile, will be unaware that your reach has been restricted, as you will still be able to see what you've posted. Shadow Banning is not a tool for free speech, it is a tool for censorship.
Twitter state: "These beliefs are the foundation of Freedom of Speech, not Freedom of Reach - our enforcement philosophy which means, where appropriate, restricting the reach of Tweets that violate our policies by making the content less discoverable."
If Musk was really a champion of free speech he would have resigned from the EUs disinformation task force, and allowed posts to be seen by everyone without fear or favour. He has done neither. He has effectively conned twitter users into believing they are not being censored when they still are.