UN calls on Musk to uphold human rights on Twitter
Announcements of major changes, mass layoffs… The turbulent first week of Twitter under the Elon Musk era ended with an urgent UN call for respect for human rights. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk on Saturday (5 November) called on new Twitter owner Elon Musk to ensure that these rights are respected on the social network. “I urge you to ensure that, under your leadership, human rights are at the heart of the leadership of Twitter,” Volker Türk wrote in an open letter, expressing his “concerns about our digital public space and Twitter’s role in it.” this expressed “.
— Volker Türk (@volker_turk) November 5, 2022
“Respect for our common human rights should serve as a safeguard for platform use and development,” and “like all businesses, Twitter needs to understand the harms of its platform and take steps to remedy them,” he added. In this respect, the information that Elon Musk had fired the entire Twitter team, which is committed to human rights, “is not an encouraging start in my view,” regretted Volker Türk.
Half of the employees were laid off
Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, took control of Twitter on October 28 after buying the Bluebird social network for €44 billion. He immediately dissolved the board, firing the executives before laying off about half of the 7,500 employees.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights, who rightly published his open letter on Twitter, where he has around 25,000 subscribers, set out six basic principles, including freedom of expression, protecting privacy and ensuring transparency. But this freedom of expression “is not a free pass,” he warned, noting that the viral spread of misinformation, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, is wreaking havoc in the real world. .
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“Twitter has a responsibility to avoid the distribution of content that violates people’s rights,” said Volker Türk. “There is no place on Twitter for hatred that incites discrimination, hostility or violence,” he summarized, recalling that “hate speech has spread like wildfire on social media… with terrible repercussions and danger to life.” Twitter should therefore continue to ban hate speech and work to quickly remove such content, he said.
Content moderation in all languages
Viktor Türk, an Austrian who took office as High Commissioner on October 17, also stressed that freedom of expression depends on effective protection of privacy. “It is important that Twitter refrain from intrusive tracking of users and collection of personally identifiable information, and that it resist, to the fullest extent possible under applicable law, unjustified governmental requests for user data,” he said.
He further emphasized that research is essential to understand the impact of social networks and therefore urged Elon Musk to maintain access to Twitter data in this sense. Finally, he requested that Twitter have content moderation features in all languages and all contexts, not just in the United States or for English language content.
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