DSA and Twitter Blue, a coming revolution in the moderation of freedom of expression?

Following this announcement, the twittersphere boiled over, even leading author Stephen King to compare the strategy of the new CEO of Twitter at the Enron affair.

To date, account verification makes it possible to authenticate on the network the real account of a personality or company thanks to a pellet attached to his nickname. This makes it easier for the latter to fight against fake accounts and identity theft on Twitter and allows users to recognize an official account at a glance.
It rests on three foundations : authenticity, notoriety and activity. It is a real guarantee of trust that the platform provides to its users.

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With the addition of this check to BlueElon Musk demolishes two of these pillars by keeping only the notion of assets since anyone paying $8/month will be able to wear this coveted badge.
In order to justify this tariff, Musk praises in particular the highlighting of the tweet certified accounts, the ability to send longer audios and videos or less advertising. Other functionalities will be added or modified to satisfy this vision of “power to the people”.

But how can this certification finally accessible to all revolutionize freedom of expression on the platform?

With the confirmation of Digital Service Act (DSA) Just a week ago, the European Union acquired a new legal arsenal to regulate the worlds of the Internet, and in particular online advertising.

Article 3(r) defined as advertising, “All information intended to promote the message of a natural or legal person, whether commercial or non-commercial, and presented by an online platform on its online interface, for remuneration, for the specific purpose of promoting these information. » Guillaume ChampeauLegal Director of Clever Cloud and former of Qwant.

This “specific goal” is what will propose Blue in addition to other features in the near future, provided that the promises of the new owner of Twitter become reality.
Highlighting of tweet and contained in the searches, highlighting the answers in the feeds of discussions (responses) and highlighting mentions to platform users, this is what Blue.

That the communications of companies and organizations on the platform are interpreted as such makes sense. On the other hand, for public figures, this would change the status quo and expose them in a completely different way!
In addition to the DSA that governs these communications would come national laws, fake news or “unintentional” approximation could become misleading or misleading advertising. Promoting certain products or services could also be risky.

The institutions will therefore have to decide on the fact that Blue is an advertising product or not.

If so, the solution is simple. Not certifying your account is a sure way to escape the DSA and enjoy the unlimited freedom of speech that Musk has been demanding for years. But by doing this, these accounts expose themselves to easy usurpation of their identity on the network, usurpation already facilitated by this new formula.
Currently two elements differentiate a fake account from an official one, the “@”. identifying the user and the certified badge. Tomorrow, only the “@” will allow this nuance and regular users of the blue bird know how easy it is to be abused by a parody account.

In addition, Article 26 of the DSA prohibits advertising under a pseudonym, the beneficiary must be clearly identifiable. But the tweets (users of Twitter), are very fond of nicknames more or less distant from their public names. Another point to clarify for our institutions.

Probably thanks to an unfortunate side effect and surely by luck, the Union has equipped itself with a powerful text capable of a lot. Considering any public statement, tweet, certified as advertising, it would become vital for these people to measure their words, to ensure their accuracy in order to avoid all-out lawsuits. The horizon of a Tweeter healthy and fair is emerging. But these same tools are also dangerous when we know the stakes of freedom of expression and could well lead to our loss. The police of good thinking on the networks would be given a tool in their hands capable of gagging or erasing a good number of words and ideas necessary for citizen debate.

Before the DSA, the EU had already been able to build powerful tools. Witness the GDPR, a text that has made it possible to regularize and standardize the world of personal data. This text is now feared by any European entity that spends a lot of energy to comply with it.
The GDPR, despite its desire to free itself from the extraterritoriality of American law, has not borne fruit, due to a power of GAFAM against which the EU and the institutions in charge of the application did not wish to engage in a real fight to enforce it.

As on many other subjects, Europe is dependent on services and goods provided by extraterritorial actors with their own vision of the direction to take. It would be illusory to think that an alternative could emerge within its industry.

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With a billionaire this time able to cut off access to Twitter Europeans in response to pressure, will the EU be able to take the decision to protect the interests of its fellow citizens, whoever they may be?

Arthur Sicard

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DSA and Twitter Blue, a coming revolution in the moderation of freedom of expression?