French President Emmanuel Macron criticized Twitter's owner Elon Musk for relaxing content censorship policies on the platform, arguing that content on Twitter needs more regulation. Macron made the comments in an appearance on ABC News ahead of his visit to The White House.
Macron said that democracies are under “very strong pressure” from forces like social media where users can say “crazy things about a vaccine, a pandemic, the war.”
This week, Musk said he would relax content moderation policies surrounding topics like the coronavirus.
Good Morning America and ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos said, “He's making it worse, isn't he?”
“I think this is a big issue,” Macron responded. “I think it deserves to be largely engaged. What I push very much for, want, is exactly the opposite – more regulation.”
Macron further argued that speech in a democracy has to be “based on respect and political order.”
The French President added: “You can demonstrate, you can have free speech, you can write what you want – but there is responsibilities and limits. The limits is you cannot go in the streets and have racist speech, or antisemitic speech, you cannot put at risk the life of someone else. Violence is never legitimate in democracy.”
Macron also criticized former US President Donald Trump, whose Twitter account was recently restored after an almost two-year ban after the January 6, 2021, riot at the US capitol.
“When in one of the biggest democracies and oldest democracies in the world, you can have a leader and supporters deciding on purpose to refuse the results because this is the one they didn't want to see, this is just the beginning of the end of the democracy,” Macron said.
Earlier this week, regulators in the European Union warned Musk that Twitter could be banned in the region or face fines if it does not enforce content censorship policies. Musk was also warned about the arbitrary reinstatement of previously banned accounts. The new owner said he would grant “general amnesty” to banned accounts that had not broken the law or spammed.