Macron has ‘clear and honest’ talk with Musk on Twitter content moderation

French President Emmanuel Macron (left) and Mr Elon Musk had an unannounced, hour-long meeting in New Orleans. PHOTOS: AFP, REUTERS

NEW ORLEANS – French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday said he had a “clear and honest” discussion with Twitter owner Elon Musk during an unannounced face-to-face meeting in New Orleans.

Mr Macron tweeted that he voiced concerns about content moderation on the highly influential platform, which Mr Musk, who also owns electric car giant Tesla, bought for US$44 billion (S$59.5 billion) in October.

“I’ll say it here, on Twitter, because it’s all about the blue bird. This afternoon, I met with (Musk) and we had a clear and honest discussion,” Mr Macron tweeted after the hour-long, closed-door sit-down at the New Orleans Museum of Art.

“Transparent user policies, significant reinforcement of content moderation and protection of freedom of speech: Efforts have to be made by Twitter to comply with European regulations,” Mr Macron said.

The meeting came as Mr Musk is facing pressure over his plans for Twitter and the site’s ability to control hate speech and illegal content.

Mr Musk has sacked thousands of employees since he took control of the company, with teams responsible for content moderation reduced drastically.

The mercurial billionaire has reinstated a slew of accounts that were previously banned for violating its content rules, including that of former United States president Donald Trump.

Twitter has also stopped enforcing a rule preventing users from sharing misleading information about Covid-19 and vaccine effectiveness.

Mr Musk, the world’s richest man, has made no secret of his fierce opposition to health restrictions put in place to fight the pandemic, especially when they meant the temporary shuttering of his Tesla factory in California.

Mr Macron last week criticised him for the change of policy, with Covid-19 infections rising sharply in France.

Mr Musk, who has described himself as a “free speech absolutist”, has seen advertisers keep their distance from the site, denying Twitter its main source of revenue. AFP

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