Two events have recently shaken the digital planet: on the one hand, the European institutional agreements on key texts, the Digital Markets Act, or DMA and Digital Services Act, or DSA † and on the other hand the possible access to the board of twitter of the free electron Egon Musk for the astronomical sum of 44 billion US dollars†
Twitter, DMA and DSA takeover: self-regulation vs. Common values, opposing philosophies.
While this shows that – as Gustave Vepereau could say – “everything is for sale”, this shock comes mainly from the confrontation of two propositions regarding the notion of common values in which everyone places freedom of expression.
The Twitter takeover raises the question not so much of freedom of speech — even if it’s the pretext for the blue bird’s “catch” — as of someone like Musk’s understanding of the concept.
Twitter and Musk: A Libertarian Putting Economic Realities to the Test?
Often described as a libertarian, that is, pushing to the extreme the autonomy of the individual in relation to the collective in the sense of Hayek and BastiaMusk is suspected of trying to reduce – in the name of this attitude – the moderation of comments on Twitter to their simplest expression.
Nothing is less certain: Musk very clearly exposed in his pitch of May 6 that his only real interest in the species was a new business success and the recent rumors of a renunciation – with forfeiture – of the businessman only come to confirm this approach. His advocacy of no moderation may be more bravado or buzz than intent, and will likely end where his investors tell him to, which is once the tweeter’s income is affected.
The strong fear that the return of outrageous comments will have toxic consequences – that brands and advertisers don’t appreciate it – may seem exaggerated. Likewise, if Musk wants to bring Trump back, it is certainly not because of his adherence to his statements and attitudes, but because his excesses generated traffic and thus revenue. There is no guarantee, however, that the Republican who cashes in his name so well, for want of a shared pie, will agree to put it at the service of another’s wealth. Plus, a comeback may not be in Musk’s best interest as Trump impeachment did not cause economic damage to the social network†
Also, despite his reputation as a “caricatural villain” (the Anglo-Saxons speak of “Villain Bond” in reference to Flemming’s famous character), Musk is neither conservative nor extremist. Libertarians carry the idea that a just society is one that protects everyone’s individual freedoms, sometimes to the extreme. The regulation only comes from the market where everything is valued and traded over the counter. In this approach, freedom of expression has a price determined by the market. It is certainly astronomical but remains. Legality comes from the collective consent of the social actors for whom they bear individual responsibility. It is certain ” radical capitalism but we are far from the authoritarian tendencies of Trump and his supporters.
On the other hand, the question remains how this freedom can be translated operationally. Indeed, in the context thus established, anyone inciting a riot will be regarded as: responsible for his words in light of the disturbances in the market he will have causeds. Everyone will have to be identified for this…If Musk is true to his principles and his words: I also want to make Twitter better than ever by improving the product with new features (…) by authenticating all participants † it will have to ban pseudonyms on Twitter and make the identity of each one public twitter† A review of impunity that we are sure to see the effect of very soon on trolls and unhealthy polemicists of all shapes and sizes.
DMA and DSA: respect for common values in which individuals and organizations subscribe and do not dominate.
Faced with this highly individualistic approach, the European texts are simply of the opposite philosophy. First of all, these are regulationsie of direct application in national law in the various Member States of the Union. They are therefore strong protective legal acts for the citizens of the Member States that leave little room for local interpretation.
Moreover, DMA and DSA have the opposite view of the libertarian approach and emphasize the limits of self-regulation (Williams, 2004) of “individual liberties” by a new invisible hand that would actually correspond to the acquisition of excessive power by groups not responsible or liable to anyone but the market: citizens, political bodies or even legal corpus.
In this sense, these rules that are supposedly legitimized by the market and the free will of each and that regulate different activities are often difficult to tolerate because, in the absence of democratic legitimacy, they also affect many third parties. The idea of the regulation is therefore to the existence of structures with such excessive powers : the Gafam and to reintroduce them to the rule of law of the geographic areas where they operate.
This is the whole meaning of Commissioner Breton’s words: ” Everything that is banned offline should be banned online The excuse of extraterritoriality disappears in the same way as that of mediation.
This attitude then confirms that there is values - commons – precious and inalienable that the market cannot regulate just because they are priceless. Without this monetary consideration, only collective power or public power can be called upon to protect them, because in this case the markets are powerless.
The materialization of the philosophical ocean that separates the Atlantean zone
The two events thus interact and reveal the deep cultural differences that separate the great western poles of Europe and the United States. Everyone recognizes the need for a framework structure and a chain of responsibility, but the ways to achieve this are contradictory.
Pragmatism is central and it will be interesting to see if the business world is better suited to the libertarian approach – with its boundless management and risk perception – or of the European who reads violations carefully and, as a consequence, clear sanctions, unless a happy medium is possible: iafter all, it has been possible to build a bridge between the two worlds on the transfer of data and their protection.