The Elon Musk Affair

By buying Twitter for an absurdly high sum ($44 billion), a symbol in itself of his excesses, Elon Musk drew the gaze of the planet to him. There are, as the saying goes, only madmen and billionaires who believe they are totally free: like a character in a novel, he manages to be both at the same time.

Billionaire, visionary, reactionary: the disturbing faces of Elon Musk

He is crazy, as evidenced by his whims, for example that of giving his son the name of a car series: X Æ A-12. California law tried to stop him, since a first name could not have numbers, but he got around the obstacle by using Roman numerals XII instead. Crazy as evidenced by his absurd announcements made in 2017 to go to the Moon in 2022 and to Mars in 2024, or his plan to build Teslas in a factory without any humans, a project codenamed “Alien Dreadnought”. On the brink of disaster, Elon M. had to urgently reconsider his plans, summing up his misfortune in a pithy formula: “I was wrong, humans are underestimated. (“Humans are underrated.”) Musk’s madness is also revealed in his peace plans for Ukraine (which earned him the retort from the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany: “My very diplomatic response is to fuck you”), or for Taiwan…

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What is Musk’s response to the proliferation of fake news?

It is an understatement to say that the debate on the moderation of content on Twitter got off to a bad start under the aegis of such a character. A study in the journal “Science” showed that fake news circulated on this network twenty-five times faster than that of information whose origin is certified, and six times faster still when the message is aimed at a political figure. What is Musk’s response to this proliferation? Certainly not to increase the role and the number of mediators: their number will drop by 15% with the purge of personnel. Musk’s idea is to charge for the authentication of the accounts of the personalities who use it. For 8 euros per month, no one will be able to usurp your identity, a privilege that was once reserved (for free) to recognized personalities. The subscription will come with some additional advantages such as appearing at the top of recommendations…

Billionaire, visionary, reactionary: the disturbing faces of Elon Musk

In view of the use made of it by Trump, a major consumer in his time of the instrument, it is difficult to see how this would be enough to stem the flow of disinformation that is pouring into it. What would be essential, at the very least, would be to certify not (only) the persons but the information itself. A simple rule could be to put a blue banner on those whose source is identified, for example those that have been published in a journal with an editor. This would have the merit of being able to attack the latter if the information is slanderous or to hold him to account. This will not prevent fake news from circulating but at least allow users to know what to expect…

Twitter may not be worth the 44 billion outlay

Being the richest man in the world, Musk can argue his personal success to attest that his madness is a source of values. Economic history, however, is filled with the fake news of financial bubbles. Tesla’s market capitalization is now three times greater than that of Toyota, the world’s largest manufacturer, which produces ten times as many cars. Does a Tesla justify a market value thirty times greater than that of a Toyota? We can doubt it, just as we can suspect that Twitter, whose turnover does not exceed 3 billion dollars, is not worth the 44 billion that Musk has paid. Frightened by the risk of informational chaos that it could install there, many companies have also frozen their advertising campaigns on Twitter, announcing painful awakenings. At a time when the financial crisis has already halved Tesla’s share price, also sending cryptocurrency platforms plunging, one can’t help but think that real-world disruptions may be about to devalue digital fictions. and their protagonists.

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