Protection of children online: Macron launches a “laboratory”, challenges Elon Musk

Protection of children online: Macron launches a “laboratory”, challenges Elon Musk

Emmanuel Macron inaugurated a “laboratory on protecting children online” in Paris on Thursday, bringing together a number of international actors, and on the occasion urged the new owner of Twitter, Elon Musk, to ask him to join the initiative.

“@elonmusk, will the bird protect our children?” (“Will the bird protect our children?”) the head of state tweeted, alluding to the social network’s famous blue bird logo.

“To all volunteers: get involved!” he suggested on Twitter after the initiative had started.

This laboratory, which brings together platforms, NGOs and regulators, must respond to the increasing exposure of minors to pornography, harassment and online violence.

It was initiated during a meeting at the Elysée Palace with NGOs and representatives of major digital platforms and search engines (Meta, Microsoft, Google, TikTok, etc.) on the occasion of the Paris Peace Forum.

Argentine President Alberto Fernandez and Estonian President Alar Karis also attended the launch of this initiative.

“The digital space must not be a place of lawlessness. It’s the fight we’ve fought against terrorism, it’s the fight we’re fighting against online hate speech. We must continue this at the level of protecting our children,” said Emmanuel Macron at the beginning of the round table.

This laboratory must “find good ways to regulate and better protect our children online”, underlined the head of state, who, along with his wife Brigitte, also mobilized on this issue.

“Protecting our children online means better verifying users’ ages, better detecting and stopping sex offenders, better detecting and responding to harassment, and more effectively removing content,” he said on Twitter.

President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigette Macron during a meeting on online child protection at the Elysée Palace on November 10, 2022 in Paris (POOL/AFP – Ludovic MARIN)

In particular, it is necessary to examine how “rapid and coordinated action can be taken between the various digital platforms to remove child pornography or intimate content disseminated without the consent of minors and their families,” he stressed during the meeting.

This initiative follows the Christchurch Appeal against violent extremism online, launched by New Zealand and France following the 2019 killings that left 51 dead at two mosques in that New Zealand locality.

The images taken by the perpetrator of the massacre were then available online for several hours. The call helped reform the Global Internet Forum Against Terrorism (GIFCT) to speed up the removal of images in a crisis.


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