A spokesman for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has demanded that Elon Musk keeps Twitter “responsible” through content censorship.
Authorities in the United Kingdom are demanding that Twitter follows the country’s censorship laws when it comes under the control of its new owner, Elon Musk.
Musk, who has self-identified as a “free speech absolutist“, has said that his aims are to increase the transparency of the platform he acquired for around $44 billion, while also noting that “free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy”.
However, while some have celebrated the forthcoming Silicon Valley regime change, authorities in Britain appear to be afraid that the takeover may get in the way of their forthcoming programme of enhanced online censorship.
“Regardless of ownership, all social media platforms must be responsible,” The Times reports a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson as saying regarding the purchase.
“That includes protecting users from harm on their sites,” the spokesman continued. “It is too early to say what — if any — changes will be made to how Twitter operates.”
Britain already has in place strict censorship laws requiring social media companies to take down content that state authorities deem to be illegal once such content is brought to their attention.
However, the so-called Conservative Party government has recently expanded its censorious aims to tackle what it deems to be “harmful” content on social media, and is now preparing to pass the so-called Online Harms Bill, which will soon require platforms to pre-emptively censor “legal but harmful” content or face massive fines.
Under the proposed legislation, social media companies would be put at the mercy of the country’s media regulator Ofcom, which would ban the likes of Twitter from allowing “harmful” content on their platform, including so-called “hate speech”.
It should be noted that, in the eyes of the government, “hate speech” is defined as: “all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify hatred based on intolerance on the grounds of disability, ethnicity, social origin, gender, sex, gender reassignment, nationality, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, colour, genetic features, language, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth or age”.
Companies who refuse to bow to British censorship after the passing of the Online Harms Bill will be liable for fines of up to 10 per cent of their global turnover, with the bosses of such enterprises facing sanctions up to and including jail time if they refuse to appease the home of Big Brother.
Another senior UK politician, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, has also made demands for more censorship on social media platforms under the auspices of fighting “prejudice”.
“Free speech cannot mean a free pass for hatred,” the mayor wrote online after news of the purchase emerged. “We must not forget the impacts of online hate speech, which fans the flames of prejudice and leads to appalling and tragic real-world violence.”
“Social media companies must do more, not less, to protect their communities,” he also wrote.
While Britain has currently one of the most high profile censorship regimes in the Western World, it is far from the only place where politicians have been taking aim at the idea of open debate on social media.
Thierry Breton, the European Union Tsar for its internal market, has demanded that Musk also play ball with his bloc’s rules and regulations, including those in relation to the censorship of unwanted ideas.
“Elon, there are rules,” the Financial Times reports Breton as saying. “You are welcome but these are our rules. It’s not your rules which will apply here.”
“Anyone who wants to benefit from this market will have to fulfil our rules,” the EU bigwig reportedly continued. “The board [of Twitter] will have to make sure that if it operates in Europe it will have to fulfil the obligations, including moderation, open algorithms, freedom of speech, transparency in rules, obligations to comply with our own rules for hate speech, revenge porn [and] harassment.”
“If [Twitter] does not comply with our law, there are sanctions — 6 per cent of the revenue and, if they continue, banned from operating in Europe,” the EU bureaucrat went on to threaten.