The blue bird of Twitter is no longer tweeting. From now on, his name is X and he beaks, screams, harasses. Long used as a common discussion space with global reach, albeit imperfect, the platform specializing in very short messages (microblogging) has given way to a multitude of virtual communities.
Since he bought Twitter in October 2022, American entrepreneur Elon Musk has imposed a new line. The virality of media posts has been reduced. The account certification method has been modified. The spread of misinformation has been amplified. The libertarian billionaire multiplies the provocations. Result: in mid-November, large advertisers and the European Commission suspended their advertisements after it approved anti-Semitic content.
We must mobilize to urgently build an alternative in Europe, reacts historian David Colon, recent author of The Information War (Tallandier). “Europe does not have digital giants, but has until now consoled itself by offering a regulatory model through its digital services regulation (DSA). But this is no longer likely to provide in a timely manner the necessary responses to the multiplication of disinformation capacities. »
“The rise of generative intelligence (AI) tools making it possible to translate and contextualize automated messages, already used by China, gives the possibility of orchestrating disinformation campaigns unlike anything we have known,” adds the researcher, specialist in propaganda at the History Center of Sciences Po Paris.
To protect himself, he defends the creation of a European public service social network. “Everyone could freely express their opinion without it being able to be artificially amplified” or “generate advertising revenue”. This will be one of the proposals of the general information working group in which he participates.
The need for such an alternative is in no doubt for Cyrille Franck, a keen observer of the media ecosystem. “This would restore strength to public service at a time when social media is becoming paid for,” he analyzes.
“We could imagine a public service for the distribution of information entrusted to an independent body, which would secure its democratic principles and the absence of commercial logic,” confirms Christophe Deloire, general delegate of Reporters Without Borders. In the audiovisual sector, there are public and private media. The same thing could be done for social networks. »
Is this feasible? “It may seem inaccessible,” agrees David Colon, “but we have the capacity, on a European scale, to create an equivalent of Twitter with integrity, without advertising, bots or artificial amplification. » The initiative could also come from the OECD, which will soon publish a report with proposals. “The prospect of disinformation campaigns generated by AI makes more than one government shudder, while around fifty elections will take place in 2024,” he notes.
Efficiency would require relying on an existing network. Is Bluesky, developed by the creator of Twitter, a clue? “Could Jack Dorsey sell Bluesky to the European Union? Or put your skills at the service of a European model of freedom and integrity? His point of view would be interesting,” replies David Colon, who “immediately thought of it.”
Another approach, suggests Christophe Deloire, would consist of “considering that digital platforms are services of general interest” to which the public authorities would grant a public service delegation conditioned by clear information distribution missions.