Elon Musk, new owner of Twitter, relays false allegations then deletes his tweet

Seeing Elon Musk at the head of Twitter made some fear a resurgence of misinformation on the social network. A few days after his acquisition, the billionaire agreed with his detractors: “There is a small possibility that appearances are deceptive,” wrote the billionaire on Sunday morning, conveying rumors about the assault on the husband of Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. Faced with the outcry, the brand new owner of Twitter deleted his tweet in the afternoon.

His post referred to the assault on Paul Pelosi, and linked to an article from the conservative Santa Monica Observer site spreading unverified information about the attack. This medium has already published conspiracy theories and false information in the past, according to the daily Los Angeles Times.

Paul Pelosi was attacked at his home on Friday by a man with a hammer, who was actually looking for Nancy Pelosi. He suffered a fractured skull and had to be hospitalized.

Paul and Nancy Pelosi, leader of the Democrats in Congress.  ANGELA WEISS/AFP
Paul and Nancy Pelosi, leader of the Democrats in Congress. ANGELA WEISS/AFP AFP or licensors

Elon Musk was reacting to a tweet from former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton castigating conspiracy theories peddled by the Republican Party. “The Republican Party and its spokespersons now regularly propagate hate speech and completely crazy conspiracy theories,” denounced the former American secretary of state. “It’s shocking but not surprising, and violence is the result.”

US President Joe Biden also denounced this weekend the aggression of Paul Pelosi, linking it to the consequences of disinformation, ten days before the mid-term elections.

Content moderation “too strict” according to Musk

Elon Musk’s tweet drew a lot of comments and criticism on the social network. “Clinton: Conspiracy theories are responsible for killing people and we shouldn’t give them visibility. Twitter owner: But have you heard of this conspiracy theory? “, summed up Seth Masket, professor of political science at the University of Denver, who reported Elon Musk’s tweet as inappropriate to the social network.

“The Elon troll should alert Twitter chief Elon to the withdrawal (of this tweet), quipped the former UN special rapporteur for freedom of expression David Kaye. Asked by AFP, Twitter did not respond immediately.

The whimsical boss of Tesla and SpaceX, who sets himself up as a defender of freedom of expression, has repeatedly affirmed that he wants to make Twitter a kind of digital agora, where all opinions are free to express themselves.

He defended a too strict moderation of the contents, however concentrating the majority of his attacks against the supposed censorship of the voices of the right and far right. However, seeking to reassure his advertisers, Elon Musk promised after his acquisition of Twitter that the social network would not become “hellish” and that he would provide it with a “content moderation council”.

On Saturday, Yoel Roth, in charge of the integrity of the platform, repeated that “hate speech had no place” on Twitter, its moderation policy having not “changed”.

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