Several French political figures are wondering about their way of using Twitter since the social network was bought by billionaire Elon Musk, who is shaking up its moderation. Some say they are ready to leave the platform.
None of the French politicians will ever reach – and it is fortunate – the frenzy with which Donald Trump used Twitter as his privileged tool when he was in the White House. However, the American social network has become a must for any elected official. Communicating about one’s action or that of one’s camp, expressing one’s indignation on such and such a subject, specifying one’s choices, is today a classic activity for politicians. Some also do not hesitate to cross swords or even to insult each other without nuance in 280 signs.
The boomerang effect of old tweets
Some have become masters in the use of this tool, from Emmanuel Macron to Jean-Luc Mélenchon, from Gérald Darmanin to Danièle Obono. But if Twitter allows you to react quickly – sometimes too quickly – it also harbors a terrible boomerang effect for elected officials who may find themselves confronted with embarrassing old tweets that no longer correspond to their current positioning or, on the contrary, reveal a constant thought.
We saw it again with the deputy RN Grégoire de Fournas – sanctioned by the Assembly for having launched “Let him return to Africa” to the deputy LFI Carlos Martens Bilongo – whose old tweets showed equally nauseating remarks.
“Twitter kills democracy, kills politics” for Yannick Jadot
But since Twitter was taken over by the whimsical Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and Space X, who wants to make the network a space of total freedom, without filters, and therefore potentially exposed to a sharp increase in hate speech and conspiracies, several political figures are wondering whether we should leave the platform. “Social networks are an attack on democracy,” said EELV MEP Yannick Jadot last Monday, denouncing Twitter in particular.
“We had a system which is, as we know, predatory from an environmental point of view, predatory from a social point of view, but today these social networks are an attack on democracy. You have algorithms that want to reinforce instability in some way, that want to reinforce invective, insult, including racist remarks or threats. You have a kind of profitability which is the number of views. You have absolute short-termism. Twitter kills democracy, kills politics, with Twitter in the end it’s Trump who wins” summarizes Yannick Jadot.
Elon Musk soon to be heard by the European Parliament?
This concern is shared by MEP Stéphane Séjourné. The president of the Renew group and secretary general of the presidential Renaissance party, indicated that Renew would request the hearing of Elon Musk by the European Parliament. “Whatever Mr. Musk chooses, our motto will remain: our continent, our choices. We need to make sure Twitter will continue to act against misinformation and hate speech.”
Several elected officials also question their personal use of the network. Government spokesman Olivier Véran wondered about the use he would make in the future of a Musk version of Twitter. “I consider it an important communication tool. The fact that this major global tool belongs to a man and that it has ambitions that worry me a little, for some of them in any case, I remain vigilant and, if necessary, I will take my own responsibilities” assures he before denouncing the future certification rules.
On the right some approve of a Twitter without moderation
Elon Musk wants to pay for obtaining the certification of accounts which has so far preserved identity theft thanks to a blue dot. “I invite them to decertify my account without delay if they believe that it is something that will become profitable”, launched Mr. Véran. “It will hurt me a little” to pay for a certified account, for his part affirmed the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire. “The question of whether or not to stay on Twitter is a serious one,” reacted the PS deputy from Essonne Jérôme Guedj… on Twitter.
But the takeover of Twitter by Musk does not worry some personalities on the right. LR MEP Nadine Morano believes that “Twitter must remain neutral” when Nicolas Dupont-Aignan tackles European Commissioner Thierry Breton who recalled that “the blue bird will fly according to our rules”. “The EU is already shaking after the takeover of Twitter. Are you afraid of freedom of expression? asks Dupont-Aignan.