Israeli Foreign Ministry slams Twitter for new lax stance on hate speech

Israeli Foreign Ministry slams Twitter for new lax stance on hate speech

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon appeared to criticize Twitter’s lack of moderation of hate speech, extremism and anti-Semitism on the platform, under the new leadership of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and said it was in danger of becoming “a very unpleasant place.”

Nahshon, who is deputy director general for public diplomacy in Israel’s foreign ministry, posted a screenshot on Monday of a hateful comment he received on one of his tweets in which the writer claimed that the Holocaust had never happened.

“For many extremists, freedom of expression is simply the freedom to spit venom. A Twittersphere [Twittersphere] without clear rules of conduct and ethics will quickly become a very unpleasant place for most of us,” Nahshon wrote.

Musk, a self-proclaimed ‘free speech absolutist’, spent $44 billion to buy Twitter last month, then fired more than half the staff, pressured the rest to quit and scared advertisers into tweeting theories of the conspiracy, reinstating previously banned accounts, including that of former US President Donald Trump, and speaks regularly with trolls and right-wing figures. Musk also unleashed an unknown number of contractors around the world responsible for moderating content.

On Oct. 28, the day after his takeover, Musk tweeted that there would be no “major content decisions or account reinstatement” until Twitter forms a “content moderation board ” with various points of view that would examine the cases. No such council has been formed.

Civil rights groups have said that since Musk’s takeover, hate speech and anti-Semitic speech have increased on the platform as online networks have seized on his property as an opportunity to launch a press full of hateful content on the site.

It raised concerns among rights groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, which called for an advertising boycott and for Musk to tweet that ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt was “defamating” him.

Musk has since said he reneged on his promise to form a moderation council because he accepted it at the insistence of a “broad coalition of political-social activist groups” which later “split the deal” urging advertisers to at least temporarily stop giving Twitter their business.

On Monday, even more frustrated with advertisers pulling or suspending campaigns, Musk attacked Apple for its tight control of what’s allowed on the App Store, saying the iPhone maker had threatened to oust its platform. recently acquired social media. Musk also joined the chorus in crying foul over the 30% fee Apple collects on transactions through its App Store – the only gateway for apps to access its billion mobile devices.

A series of tweets started by Musk included a meme of a car with his first name on it veering off a freeway exit ramp labeled “Go to War”, instead of continuing to “Pay 30%”.

The billionaire CEO also tweeted that Apple had “threatened to remove Twitter from its App Store, but won’t tell us why.”

In this file photo taken March 14, 2019, Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks during the unveiling of the new Tesla Model Y in Hawthorne, California. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP)

Apple and Google both require social media services on their app stores to have effective systems in place to moderate harmful or abusive content.

Yoel Roth, the former head of trust and safety at Twitter who left after Musk took over, wrote in a New York Times op-ed that “failure to follow guidelines from Apple and Google would be catastrophic” and would risk “being expelled from their application”. stores.”

Musk believes all legally permitted content should be allowed on Twitter and described his actions on Monday as a “revolution against online censorship in America.”

He also tweeted that he planned to post “Twitter Files on free speech suppression,” but didn’t specify what data he had in mind to share with the public.

Although Musk says Twitter is seeing record engagement with him at the helm, his approach has surprised the company’s biggest moneymaker, advertisers.

In recent weeks, half of Twitter’s top 100 advertisers have announced they are suspending or “apparently stopped advertising on Twitter”, according to analysis by nonprofit watchdog group Media Matters.

Apple CEO Tim Cook holds a new iPhone 14 Pro during a special Apple event on September 7, 2022 in Cupertino, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP)

Musk on Monday accused Apple of also “virtually quitting advertising on Twitter.”

“Do they hate free speech in America?” he asked, before responding with a tweet tagging Apple CEO Tim Cook.

In the first three months of 2022, Apple was the top advertiser on Twitter, spending some $48 million on ads that accounted for more than 4% of the social media platform’s revenue, according to a Washington Post report citing an internal document. from Twitter.

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