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Government, leave Musk’s X (fka Twitter)

X, is disruptive and malignant. X harbours and stimulates multiple attacks on our liberal democracy.

X’ algorithms promote extreme opinions. People no longer connect with each other. There is no open and fruitful exchange of ideas. Deliberately created disruptive misinformation remains available and can be widely shared. Many accounts are non-human and serve only to spread misinformation. There is often algorithm-driven malevolence. X gives the Putins of this world a significant weapon for their attack on democracy.

Moreover, Musk does not adhere to European regulations on many important points, including combating misinformation. Musk loudly declares his unwillingness to improve X in this regard. In his libertarian vision, non-interference is the only way. Libertarianism is a pathological form of denial of the stubborn reality often found in those with too little opposition and too much money. By refusing to intervene, Musk leaves the public space of X to Russian trolls and deluded fantasists and fanatics.

Are there benefits to X? Of course: X gives every citizen a voice. That is a significant contribution to public debate. But in that regard, X is not unique.

X has a unique feature: it is dominant. Everyone uses X. The Dutch government also uses X. The Rijksvoorlichtingsdienst (Government Information Service) loves it. The municipalities, individual ministries, caretaker Prime Minister Rutte: all use X. And, of course, all journalists use X. After all, X is the channel used to make information and viewpoints public first. In essence, only that dominance is the reason X is still used despite all its disadvantages. There is an attractive force of the largest in its kind.

But important parties don’t actually need X. Journalists and interested parties will find them anyway. The best example that you can also do very well without X is Donald Trump, who created a platform for himself with his own Truth Social (2 million active users) to remain dominant in public debate without too much effort.

Does the government need X? No. The government has such an important information position that anyone who feels the need to know government statements will find them wherever the government makes those statements. Therefore, the government can communicate through other channels than X perfectly. Through other similar social media, such as Mastodon, or even through Facebook (a medium that, of course, has its own issues). There is no reason to stick with X. To continue to use a medium that undermines your own legitimacy.

In fact, given the illegitimate nature of the medium, it is a question of whether the government should not leave X. By continuing to use X, the government, in a way, becomes complicit in sustaining the flow of misinformation and extremism. That cannot, should not, and need not happen.

The government must therefore stop using X and let government communication take place through another, less malignant social medium, such as Mastodon. This also has other benefits. Given the importance of government communication, no journalist can afford not to create an account on that other social medium as well. The same goes for all other interested parties and stakeholders. With the government, many others will also switch. This will give a boost to the new, better social medium and, perhaps even more importantly, reduce the impact of X. Hopefully, a form of communication will emerge that develops into a full-fledged, more democratic, and legitimate alternative to the broken and malicious X.

So, government: do what’s necessary. Dump X.



30 October 2023 - Freedom of Speech, Social Media

About Jetse Sprey

Jetse is associated with our office as legal counsel. Jetse finds solutions instead of problems and is able to break stalemates again and again. He speaks his mind and is not guided by what he thinks his clients want to hear.

He writes sharp, readable contracts. He has extensive experience with Blockchain and is an entrepreneur in this field himself. He writes convincing procedural documents and advice. He is knowledgeable in intellectual property, privacy and corporate law.

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