Here’s how Musk will try to weasel out of his promises to Apple and the EU

The Matt Binder Doomed Podcast had on a great guest, Alejandra Caraballo, talking about Twitter and the harm that Musk is causing people with his actions. I called in during the after show to talk about efforts to pressure him and what he is doing to avoid negative consequence.

Since then a few things have happened. Musk took a walk with Tim Cook at Apple and had a video call with the EU commissioner. I talked about them on the Nicole Sandler Show.

I’m going to break down what’s happening and what we can do besides popping popcorn and cackling.

Musk makes promises to people who can help him be successful. And those who can thwart his success. Early on at Twitter it was big advertisers. When he didn’t deliver what he promised he said: “I don’t need you advertisers anyway!”
(But behind the scenes he is still talking with them and asking them to give him a shot. “Think of all the people you will reach!” )

When Twitter Blue was a disaster he pulled it and is trying to fix it so he won’t have to rely on advertisers. (Behind the scenes he knows that Twitter Blue can’t replace lost ad revenue, but it is a perk he can offer his loyal followers.)

When Apple warned him that the failure to do content moderation could get him kicked off the Apple store first he said,”I’m going to make my own phone!”
(Behind the scenes when he got how serious this was he went down to Apple to talk to Tim Cook. This was to buy him time. What did he promise? My bet? “I will totally fix things! Trust me.”

After the meeting Musk cranked up the Twitter Content Moderation AI and Spam Blocker AI. This action might have lead to false positives, kicking people like Dean Baker off. But it also would have kicked off a bunch of Nazis. We are only hearing about a few big name liberals suspended, not 10,000s of small time Nazis. Twitter can show this internal data to Apple to satisfy them that he doing content moderation.
He will even use it to show the world he’s doing something.

But we now learn hate speech when up when Musk said it wasn’t.
Hate Speech on Twitter Skyrocketed While Elon Said He Was Winning, New Research Shows

When the EU warned him to follow their rules or get banned in the EU he met with them in a video call.
(Thierry Breton posted about the meeting on Mastodon! )

There is more to the EU requirements than just content moderation.
2. Tackle disinformation

  • Live up to commitments on Code of conduct on disinformation:
  • Label hoaxes and disinformation in cooperation with fact-checkers
  • Promote authoritative sources
  • Demonetise disinformation spread

Seeing as how Twitter just stopped the COVID disinformation policy, I don’t see how they are living up to that promise. But here’s the thing:

Both Apple and the EC will give him the benefit of the doubt, because that’s what they do, warnings are supposed to be about getting companies to change, so they don’t have to kick them off.

But Musk, like TFG, doesn’t want to be seen as “capitulating” he’ll try multiple other ways to satisfy Apple and the EU AND his RW audience.

Look at Ye. Musk lets them back on. He tells Ye to play nice. Ye doesn’t. Then he has to act.

Ye’s comment wasn’t illegal. It DID violate the TOS of Twitter. If Musk didn’t remove him it would be acknowledging that the TOS are no longer in place.
BTW, I can see Musk saying later (to Apple and the EC ) that him suspending Ye constitutes him following their rules. (“See? I kicked off Ye!”)
What he is NOT addressing is what will happen with the 100,000’s of others who are coming back on. How will he address them?

What we are seeing is a campaign designed to sell the media and the power audience at Apple and the EU that he is doing the right thing.

They might buy it for a few hours based on their private promises from him, but his OTHER audience, the Techbro reply guys, fan bots and Nazi’s won’t cooperate.

They will violate the existing Twitter Terms of Service. Count on it.

New violation of Twitter’s TOS need to be captured then shown to Apple, the EU and the advertisers

For example:

A cartoon image of a person hanging themselves

Musk will not be able to keep his promises. We need to alert Apple, the EU and the advertisers that he is failing.

What I pointed out on my calls on Binder’s and Sandler’s show is that this “Experiment in ‘free speech'” didn’t have to happen.

Twitter HAS the policies, they had a team to implement them. Now they don’t have the team so it will be harder to deal with the clever ways people on social media harm people. Like with harassment, they can say, “But it’s legal!” In the past I could say, “But it violates the platforms Terms Of Service.” and report them. But if the platform doesn’t act, what is the recourse of the people being harmed?

Our Congress passed a law within the communications act that said, “The platform is not responsible for what people say.” The reason that the threat of getting kicked out of the Apple store is important is because their rules say, “If you want your app to be in our store, YOU have to have a plan to deal with your users saying these kinds of things, here is a detailed list.
This is good, but there STILL is no punishment for the company if they fail. They just have to try. Musk can say we have one and we are trying.

We HAVE definitions of what is harmful speech. Humans can tell the difference. The game that people on the right play is pretending that people expressing differences of opinion is the same as speech that can cause harm.

It is appropriate to pass laws that prevent harm. Many already exist. They also exist as Terms of Service for private companies.
It is appropriate to pressure companies to have negative consequences if nothing is done to prevent harm, especially when a company has the ability to do so.

In America we have a hard time passing laws about speech. Even speech that is clearly harmful, so we outsourced that function to private entities, like corporations. We even gave them a law that protects them from liability if they don’t do something about harmful speech.

But what do we do when the private entities fail to even TRY? In America we let them do it, hoping that it will be a failure FINANCIALLY. That’s great but what if the company doesn’t care about financial success? Fox News makes no money from the Tucker Carlson show. Musk can afford to lose billions.

This is where we need to think about what other pressures beyond financial pressure. Negative PR pressure is a thing. Civil rights organizations have stood up for the individuals who are being harmed. They worked the financial pressure angle and also the negative PR angle.

My suggestion is to keep highlighting the failure of Musk to act on harmful speech. Keep his failures in the face of Apple, Google and the EU.

The media needs to see that too. Social Media has been given a pass by the media while it allows massive amounts of harmful speech. Facebook, Google & others have been able to avoid financial liability for it by saying, “Hey we’re protected by law and also, we’re trying!”

They have also figured out how to profit from it since there are no negative financial consequences for allowing it. As we have learned from the Facebook Whistleblower even when a group violated Facebook’s policies they were allowed to remain on because of their high engagement levels. As we have learned from the work of the Center for Counter Digital Hate that when they are alerted to violations of their own disinformation policies and agreed in front of Congress to act, they STILL DIDN’T act. )

Musk’s mistakes are many, one of them is his failure to use Twitter’s own TOS and moderating system. It would have given him the same cover that Facebook gets. But, like all conservatives, he has to learn for himself.

What next? I expect he’ll make a joke about this, attack others, ask for more time and make promises that things will be better. Like he did in his Twitter 2.0 memo.

Twitter’s 2.0 post was their way of saying. “Hey we totally have content moderation policies and we totally plan to use the AI tools but cut us some slack, our Boss Elon has to hurt a few million people until he gets what we have known for years. Also, too he’ll fire us and we’ll lose our H1-B visas if we don’t come up with a reason for his BS “experiments” we know will cause harm.”

Keep focusing on the failure of Musk to act on harmful speech. Keep his failures in the face of Apple and the EU.
If you see Musk’s Twitter not acting in response to violations of its rules, (Here’s the list.) Go over to the app store. Review it with a one state and tell them specifically what you saw and when you saw it. This will show them that Musk is not keeping his promise.

Post a few examples of Twitter’s failure to act over on EUs guidelines on Mastodon under Thierry Breton’s account.
Be polite, describe how a tweet or image violates their rules and Twitter’s failure to act. If you use a graphic image add a content warning to it and add an alt description.

One of the things that I think keeps getting overlooked in this whole Musk takeover of Twitter story is the harm that he is causing people and the question of whose responsibility it is to act to stop it.

It’s crazy to just allow people who are known to cause harm to reoffend and then act like no one could have predicted it. It’s irresponsible to remove the tools and the team that protected people. People at Twitter and around the world know what is going to happen. To ignore the history of Twitter’s own Trust and Safety team is beyond irresponsible, it’s reckless endangerment.

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