Twitter could be banned from the EU if Elon Musk continues with his free speech reforms, a senior official within the bloc has reportedly said.
Thierry Breton, the European Union’s Internal Market Commissioner, has reportedly ordered Elon Musk to abandon some of his free speech plans for Twitter or risk seeing the platform banned from operating within the EU.
It comes as Musk continues pushing the platform in a direction more accepting of freedom of speech, unbanning the likes of former President Donald Trump and reversing Twitter’s hardline policing of COVID-related content.
However, in what appears to be partly an attempt at appeasing global elites, Musk has repeatedly said that he has no intention of allowing the platform to be completely free, promising leaders that he will limit the reach of content governments deem offensive.
According to a report by the Financial Times on Wednesday however, it appears that such a promise is not enough for Breton, with the commissioner said to have threatened Musk during a meeting that the EU could see the platform banned from all of its member states if he does not bow to every single one of the bloc’s demands.
While the EU official later wrote on Twitter that he welcomed the CEO’s “intent to get Twitter 2.0 ready” to implement EU regulations, the bigwig then redirected users towards platform rival Mastodon to see the exact demands he was making of the social media giant, which included censoring content, working with so-called “fact-checkers” and the demonetisation of the spread of “disinformation”.
Interestingly, Breton made no reference to ensuring the online security of citizens using Twitter, an oversight that becomes more questionable when considering that he directed his own followers towards a platform that — according to Forbes — has “numerous vulnerabilities and other security issues”.
While extreme, it appears that Breton’s threat that Twitter could be banned from the EU if it does not comply may be more bark than bite, with POLITICOreporting that the mechanisms to actually see the platform axed from the bloc will likely not be in place until 2024.
What’s more, while agreements are currently in place between various tech giants and the European Union on the regulation of disinformation and hate, as of now, these agreements are entirely voluntary in nature, with Twitter being under no obligation to follow any guidelines set out.
Unfortunately, this will likely not stop Elon Musk from bowing to Breton, with the multi-billionaire having at this point repeatedly said he would acquiesce to the Frenchman’s demands in regard to censorship on the platform.
Things do not look likely to be different this time around, with Musk not only reportedly confirming that he was willing to follow EU law when it comes to censorship, but also saying that he thought the rules were “very sensible”, and that the bloc’s forthcoming law on social media regulation ought to be enforced worldwide.
No Free Birds Here: Musk to Meet EU Bigwig After Bloc Demands Twitter Censorship of Free Speech Continueshttps://t.co/B2Cr283Hvh
Apple’s threat to remove Twitter from its App store for the crime of being a slightly more open forum for free speech under Elon Musk has been met with a chorus of outrage and substantive threats of congressional action by Republican leaders.
Just kidding. Republicans have barely said anything about it, and establishment Republicans have said nothing at all. With the exception of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who offered his opinion on a matter outside his purview as a governor, Apple’s threat to crush Twitter has been met more or less with silence, even from members of the GOP who consider themselves conservative. (Sen. Mike Lee, to his credit, tossed out a tweet saying Apple’s threat makes the case for the Open Apps Markets Act. But he’s the exception to the rule.) And though Apple leaders apparently smoothed over the “misunderstanding” with Musk on Wednesday afternoon, we have all seen this pattern: Big Tech’s anti-speech aggression always turns out to be a “mistake” or “misunderstanding” as soon as enough people notice.
This is why I’ve argued that actual conservatives, those who want to save the country and restore republic self-government, should stop calling themselves conservatives. At this point, the label amounts to an admission of failure and defeat, and might as well be the official title of those who desire above all to be the controlled opposition for a permanent leftist regime.
The Apple situation perfectly illustrates why conservatives need to swap out their old labels for new ones even as they swap out old ways of thinking about government power for a candid recognition of new realities and new imperatives.
In this case, Apple and its CEO, Tim Cook, are squarely on the side of authoritarianism, here and abroad. They are certainly on the side of communist China, which right now is trying hard to suppress mass protests over the CCP’s draconian “zero Covid” policy. Chinese President Xi Jinping sent tanks into the eastern city of Xuzhou this week — not that you’ll read much coverage about it in the corporate press.
As it happens, China is working to quash protests and suppress free speech with Apple’s help. Earlier this month, news broke that the company eliminated the AirDrop wireless file-sharing on iPhones in China after the feature was used by protesters to coordinate and share information. For their part, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., wrote a letter to Cook, branding Apple’s operations in China “unconscionable” and calling on the CEO to work toward halting them; Florida’s Marco Rubio, who is a co-sponsor on the Open Apps Markets Act with Hawley, chimed in with an anodyne tweet; and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, echoed what’s been abundantly clear: “Apple is fully in bed with Communist China.”
Since Apple is an active collaborator with China’s police state, it’s no surprise that Apple is also on the side of an increasingly authoritarian Democrat Party and a Biden administration that seems eager to use Big Tech to suppress online speech. Consider White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s recent comment that the administration is “keeping a close eye” on Twitter and Musk, “monitoring” the social media giant to ensure it suppresses “misinformation” and “hate.” And you know what that means.
Given all this, it should be easy for Republican leaders like Rep. Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to come out swinging against Apple and in defense of Twitter and Musk, to propose legislation that breaks up tech giants such as Apple and Google, treats them as common carriers, or at the very least requires Apple and Google to make it easier for app developers to connect with customers directly, as the Open Apps Markets bill would do.
But the old conservatism remains so in thrall to free market libertarianism and big business that it cannot even contemplate any of that, which means that it has effectively outlived its usefulness and we should be done with it. The only kind of Republicans we need now are those who recognize not just that the left has captured our institutions but that for at least the last half-century it has been building a tyranny machine in the form of an aggressive administrative state, which is now colluding with the most powerful tech companies in the world to suppress speech, rig elections, and support authoritarianism abroad.
This fusion of the administrative state with Big Tech threatens to replace republican self-government with an unaccountable federal bureaucracy. Indeed, that process is already well underway. Those on the right who repose some hope in the Supreme Court stopping it are being naïve. The court has proven itself unwilling to smash this tyranny machine — and even if it tried, the left has signaled its willingness to pack the court if it feels its revolutionary project is truly under threat.
The task at hand, then, is nothing less than the restoration of republican self-government and the revival of first principles in American civic life. To do that, we need a plan to revive the other two badly atrophied branches of government so they can dismantle the federal bureaucracy or, where necessary and possible, use it as an instrument of renewal.
McCarthy, or whoever ends up as the next Republican speaker of the House, will have such a slender GOP majority that it will be limited to investigating the administrative state and blocking the Biden administration’s legislative agenda. It would be a monumental mistake to pursue any kind of bipartisan cooperation with the Democratic Party on any issue. It would likewise be a mistake to ignore calls to investigate and impeach Attorney General Merrick Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Asked about these things recently, McCarthy betrayed a fundamental misunderstanding of the problem, saying, “I think the country wants to heal and … start to see the system that actually works.”
But the system cannot work as long as Garland can use the Justice Department as a political weapon, branding parents who speak out at school board meetings as “domestic terrorists” and sending the FBI to raid the homes of anti-abortion activists. The system cannot work when the DOJ is allowed to deploy a geofence dragnet warrant to intercept the communications and location data for thousands of peaceful protesters on Jan. 6, making a mockery of the Fourth Amendment. It cannot work as long as Mayorkas is free to ignore federal immigration law and maintain a de facto open border. And it cannot work if Apple and the White House are allowed to attack Twitter because Elon Musk decided to make it marginally more open to free speech.
There is a war underway for America’s future, and right now only one political party is fighting it. The political and cultural project of the left constitutes a cancer that’s killing our republic and must be cut out. It’s time for Republicans to start talking and acting like they understand that, or step aside and take their place in the ranks of a failed conservative movement.
John Daniel Davidson is a senior editor at The Federalist. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Claremont Review of Books, The New York Post, and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter, @johnddavidson.
CTH has not visited the various Twitter stories recently, quite frankly because we are ambivalent to them. It just seems illogical for Elon Musk to have purchased Twitter without any idea of what was happening inside Jack’s Magic Coffee Shop, the public-private partnership that structures the operations of the social media company known as Twitter.
That said, some interesting developments recently as media rail against the platform and organized ultra-leftist groups demand advertising boycotts. Apparently, Apple and Android are threatening to remove the Twitter App and Mr. Musk is doubling down on exposing the matrix of how the U.S. government was working with Twitter toward controlling speech that was against their interests.
This tweet about releasing internal “files” on “speech suppression” follow on the heels of Mr. Musk noting that government involvement in the blocking of speech is very troubling.
It’s not a secret that FBI and U.S. Dept of Homeland Security offices were in partnership with Twitter. Much has been written about how DHS collaborated with the platform on the definitions and removals of material adverse to their interests.
When Musk uses the word “files” he is probably referencing a set of guidelines from the U.S. government to Twitter for content enforcement.
We see a lot of shocked faces around this as if people are only just discovering the issue. The general ‘surprise‘ seems rather weird.
It is worth remembering when Twitter became a tool of the U.S. government. It was back during the 2011 ‘Arab Spring’, specifically the events in Egypt, when members from the Obama administration first solicited Jack Dorsey (Twitter) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) for help.
The U.S. State Dept goal was to use these social media platforms as a way for citizens in Egypt and Libya to organize when the government was trying to put down protests. President Obama wanted to assist the Muslim Brotherhood achieve the goal of removing Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Khaddaffi respectively.
Twitter and Facebook were instrumental in the organization of the protests which were then compromised by the more extreme political elements of political Islam from within the organization of the Muslim Brotherhood. The relationship between the government and social media grew from there.
While the middle east uprisings were essentially the Beta test, everything in the relationship between govt and those companies evolved toward domestic use in the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri.
Twitter and Facebook began promoting the “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” nonsense that was created for national media consumption by the Black Lives Matter group. … and from that moment the public-private partnership was off to the races.
Fast forward a decade, and yes, now DHS is focused on domestic extremism as the greatest public threat. Again, controlling speech that runs counter to the interest of government is part of a continuum of the same relationship.
It will be interesting to see what’s in the files.
The truth is that Twitter is unprecedented, which is what makes it such a confounding, but also very interesting, conceptual problem to ponder. It is also what produces so much faulty analysis as people grope for misleading analogies from the past.
Others have pointed out that the very notion of a town or public square in which free speech and the exchange of ideas occurs is probably spurious. I mean, do we really think hundreds, or thousands, of residents gathered for hours on end in small towns all over the world to engage in political debate and other conversations?
Even if this were the case, the scale of Twitter blows this analogy out of the water and into irrelevance. Twitter has something like 240 million daily users spread across the entire globe. Moreover, Twitter is not a town square, but millions of squares of varying sizes. I mean, Twitter consists of millions of discrete conversations across geographic boundaries 24/7. It literally never shuts down and most users participate in only a microcosm of the vast macrocosm that is Twitter.
Then throw in sound, images, videos, memes, emojis, retweets, likes, links to other sites, dms (direct messages), hashtags and more and you begin to see that this is very unlike even the myth of the town square as we now conceive it.
Besides, the “public” aspect of Twitter, which is how it can feel given anyone can start an account, tweet and read other people’s tweets for free and publicly, masks the fact that Twitter is owned and operated by Twitter, Inc., a publicly traded company (at least for the time being), which makes its money by monetising users’ metadata and selling targeted advertising.
This. Is. Not. How. A. Town. Square. Functions.
It would be akin to a private individual or party owning the town square, letting people come and speak publicly there for free, but listening to their conversations, gleaning their interests, fears and desires, and then selling this information to traders who could come and gather at the square and market their products to the speakers and their audiences.
Twitter is the product of a digital advertising company (probably about to move into the subscription game) and it is only free and public because that is how Twitter, Inc. can monetise your data. In fact, your metadata is the product that Twitter, Inc. sells and the platform Twitter is simply the very large vat Twitter, Inc. uses to collect that valuable data.
Moreover, it is an extremely unsuccessful business. Successful in terms of adoption and cultural impact, sure. But as a business it is terrible. I don’t think it has ever turned a profit and right now it is bleeding 4m in losses daily. Hence Musk’s slash-and-burn strategy.
This brings me back to “unprecedented.”
What we have is a corporation that has a fiduciary responsibility to return a profit for its investors, which seeks to do so by selling digital advertising by monetising its users’ metadata, while setting terms and conditions that are clearly geared to make it safe for advertisers (it has no choice given its investor obligations).
Do you see how silly it is to complain about free speech on Twitter? Twitter doesn’t exist to promote free speech.
Welcome to the 21st century and the new era of corporate-controlled, commodified digital speech.
I’m going to skip noting that Elon Musk Twitter is essentially unchanged, regarding the relationship between Twitter, the Dept of Homeland Security and the disinformation police, as many keep saying Musk Twitter has not had time to reformat.
That said, five days after our post-election review of the difference between ballots and votes, and within minutes of the controversial Arizona governor contest being announced by DHS media outlets, suddenly any discussion about “Ballots -vs- Votes” is considered a risk to democracy. [LINK}
Twitter specifically, and Big Tech writ large, has now placed a warning on the CTH article where we draw attention to the general difference between ballots and votes. The timing of the intervention, as related to the content discussed, is transparent. Sunlight is a great disinfectant and must be controlled at all costs.
In one sense this effort to block discussion is irrelevant, the discussion is now taking place; attentions are being paid; the horse is out of the barn; millions are now expanding the discussion and applying Occam’s Razor to the simple reality. This is why information providers and independent researchers must work with urgency and diligence to control their own platforms.
CTH is never going to stop discussing the uncomfortable stuff because Truth Has No Agenda, regardless of our personal feelings or opinions on the matter.
Yes, in this discussion there is a clear difference between two electioneering priorities, one focused on ballot assembly and the other focused on winning votes. However, in the broader sense this censorship effort to control discussion of these distinctions shows just how far and fast we are collapsing into a totalitarian and Orwellian nightmare.
Find me something malicious, violent or even ::gasp::untrue about the subject of Ballots vs Votes as written.
If truth is viewed by Twitter/DHS control mechanisms as an issue that could lead to “real world harm,” well, what does that tell us about how they are defining the “threat to our democracy” as applied from the mindset of the decisionmakers.
Beyond the annoyances, downstream at a granular level these types of information controls have consequences most information consumers do not consider.
These labels created by Big Tech are used against content providers like CTH to block people from reading. Paths on the internet are controlled by a host of technology systems that use these “malicious” tags as a justification to divert viewers and control the scale of information distribution. We call this “Techfiltration“.
Techfiltration is the threat to free speech and truthful -even controversial- discussion. Therefore ‘techfiltration’ is really the threat to democracy, not the speech itself. GO DEEP to understand the prior discussion of how your internet provider, cell phone carrier and browser control your internet travel.
…”If you cannot reach a website, see an image, view a page, or navigate a system, it’s likely not anything you are doing wrong; most often it’s the result of a tech control system designed to keep you away from the data. Additionally, valid information like emails or text messages are increasingly identified as malicious, spam or blocked completely by the email or cell phone service you have subscribed to.” (more)
CTH has one long standing position about discussion and research, The Truth Has No Agenda.
While the Twitter/DHS targeting operation may be intended to shut down discussion and research, we at CTH will not flinch.
It may seem like a small thing to many, but what these censorship examples represent are dangerous when left unchallenged. Once again, CTH will challenge these self-appointed arbiters and we will not stop providing information that challenges the orthodoxy of ‘approved’ collective thought.
Their need for control is a reaction to fear.
Our small yet formidable beacon will remain lit, and people will find it. We will continue asking the uncomfortable questions and presenting the logical conclusions, even if the DHS information control officers despise us in the reading of it.
Steadfast as always, determined as ever, and even more resolute with each annoyance.
The lords of lockdown barely escaped their worst possible fate, namely that the topic would become the national and international source of scandal that it should be. And let’s add the vaccine mandates here too: even if such had been morally justified, which they were not, there is absolutely no practical reason for them at all.
To have imposed both of these within the course of one year – with zero evidence that they achieved anything for public health and vast amounts of unfolding evidence that they ruined life quality for countless millions – qualifies as a scandal for the ages. It was in the US but also in nearly every country in the world but a few.
Might that have huge political implications? One would suppose so. And yet today it appears that truth and justice are further off than ever. The most passionate of the anti-lockdown governors – those who never locked down or opened earlier than the rest of the country – won on their record. Most of the rest joined the entire political establishment in pretending that all of this is a non-issue. Tragically, this tactic seems to have worked better than it should have.
Meanwhile, a few points to consider:
The US government, through the Transportation Safety Administration, has signed yet another order extending the ban on unvaccinated international visitors until January 8, 2023. This means that no person who has managed to refuse the shot is allowed to come to the US for any reason. This is 30% of the world’s population, banned even to enter the US on their own dime. Something like this would have been inconceivably illiberal three years ago, and been a source of enormous controversy and outrage. Today, the extension hardly made the news.
The Biden administration has once again extended the Covid emergency declaration another 90 days, which continues to grant government vast powers without Congressional approval. Under a state of emergency, the Constitutional structure of the US is effectively suspended and the country remains on a wartime footing. This announcement was not controversial, and, like the above, it barely made the news.
Many colleges and universities, and also other schools and public agencies, continue to enforce the vaccine mandate even without any solid science behind the approval of the bivalent shots or any real rationale behind the push, given that most people have long ago been exposed and acquired natural immunity, and, moreover, it is very well established that the shots do not protect anyone from infection nor stop transmission. They just keep doing this anyway.
Masking is not in disrepute because we never really obtained anything like an honest admission of their failure to control the spread. Even today, there is a percentage of people out there permanently traumatized. On travels, I’m seeing perhaps 10-20% but in some Northeastern cities, regular wearing of masks is also very common. Once they became a symbol of political compliance and virtue, that sealed the deal and the culture was changed. Now we face the threat of mask mandates whenever government deems it necessary because the Transportation Safety Authority has been given the go-ahead by the courts.
The end of vaccine mandates in most areas of life, and hence also the drive for a passport to distinguish between clean and unclean people, is a good sign. But the infrastructure is still in place and becoming more sophisticated. It is hardly a final victory. It might only be a temporary respite, while all the ambitions are still extant.
More than that, the Biden administration (and all that it represents, including the World Economic Forum, the World Health Organization, and everything else called the establishment) has its own pandemic plans in place. The idea is not to dial back the mandates or cool it on them. It’s the reverse: centralize all pandemic planning to make a South Dakota, Georgia, and Florida experience impossible the next time. Also, spend tens of billions in more money.
The principle seems to have emerged among the agencies, intellectuals, and politicians who did this. Whatever you do, never admit to having made any major mistakes. And never connect the economic, cultural, health, and educational disasters all around us to anything the government did in 2020 or 2021! That would be nothing but a conspiracy theory.
The pandemic racket is so huge at this point that it is even embroiled in the FTX meltdown over the weekend. Sam Bankman-Fried’s brother Gabe actually founded a nonprofit solely for the purpose of providing “support” for the $30 billion that the Biden administration has allocated to pandemic planning. The institution “Guarding Against Pandemics” is very obviously a honeypot for such funding, complete with on-the-record endorsements from many Democrat Party candidates who won election.
Meanwhile, yes, there have been many successful court challenges to many features of the pandemic response. But not enough. The main machinery that took away liberty and property in the name of virus control is still in place in all its essentials. The CDC to this day brags of its awesome quarantine powers that it can deploy any time government deems it necessary. Nothing about that has changed.
In the big picture and rendered in a philosophical sense, humanity seems to have lost its ability to learn from its own errors. Put in more gritty terms, too many people among ruling-class interests gained financially and in terms of the lust for power during the pandemic to prompt any serious rethinking and reform.
In any case, that rethinking and reform is now put off for another day. Anyone seriously concerned about the future of humanity and the civilizations it built must throw themselves into the long-term battle for truth and reason. That will require that we use every bit of what remains of free speech and what remains of the longing for integrity and accountability in public life. The group we have come to call “they” want a demoralized population and a silent public square.
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Free speech is the lifeblood of a healthy society. But there are some legitimate constraints on free speech, in my view.
1) Defamation: the injury that can be done to individuals as a consequence of making false accusations in a digital age are so severe that there must be measures in place to deter such speech and legal recourse for those injured by it (think of the damage from a false accusation of abuse, for instance);
2) Copyright: individuals are entitled to the economic benefits of their creative and intellectual property. There can be no free speech defence for stealing and monetising someone else’s intellectual property, particularly when that property comes in the form of speech (a book, for instance);
3) Incitement to violence: terrorists do not have the right to exercise their speech to plot and executive acts of violence, nor to encourage and facilitate violence from others;
4) National security: individuals do not have the right to sell national secrets to adversaries, nor to publicly broadcast sensitive information about defence assets, capabilities, plans, nor the identities of intelligence officers and the agents they recruit.
Some qualifications: Notice the things which are not on my list of legitimate constraints: offence and hate speech.
The challenge is that once you accept that there are some legitimate constraints on free speech, then you are locked into a difficult balancing act, in which the constraints are perpetually challenged by ambiguous cases on the periphery, and an ever-present temptation to increase the scope of the constraints and to misuse them for illegitimate purposes.
I see no way around this, in which case the very limited number of legitimate constraints on free speech must be carefully and vigilantly circumscribed, always erring on the side of a high threshold for their application.
We are moving further and further away from this balance, I’m sorry to say.
The technical storage or access is strictly necessary for the legitimate purpose of enabling the use of a specific service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user, or for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network.
The technical storage or access is necessary for the legitimate purpose of storing preferences that are not requested by the subscriber or user.
The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for statistical purposes.The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for anonymous statistical purposes. Without a subpoena, voluntary compliance on the part of your Internet Service Provider, or additional records from a third party, information stored or retrieved for this purpose alone cannot usually be used to identify you.
The technical storage or access is required to create user profiles to send advertising, or to track the user on a website or across several websites for similar marketing purposes.