UN open letter to Elon Musk: Ensure respect for human rights on Twitter

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, published this Saturday a open letter to the new CEO of Twitter, Elon Musk, in which he urges him to “ensure that human rights are a central element” in his management of the famous social network.

The letter follows the dismissal of the entire Twitter human rights team and all but two of its ethics team members, which Türk did not consider “an encouraging start.”

“Twitter is part of a global revolution that has transformed the way we communicate. But it is with concern and fear that I write about our digital public square and Twitter’s role in it,” Türk said in the letter.

“Like all companies, Twitter needs to understand the damage associated with its platform and take the necessary steps to address it.. Respect for our human rights that we share should establish the limits of the use and evolution of the platform”, he added.

“In summary, I urge you to ensure that human rights are at the center of the management of Twitter under your leadership“said the High Commissioner.

Türk established six fundamental principles from the point of view of human rights that must be at the forefront of the management of Twitter:

  • Protect freedom of expression around the world: Türk urged Twitter to fully uphold the rights to privacy and freedom of expression, in accordance with relevant laws, and to report transparently on requests from governments that violate those rights.
  • Freedom of expression is not a blank check: Viral spread of harmful misinformation, like that seen during the vaccine-related Covid-19 pandemic, is causing real harm around the world. Twitter has a responsibility to prevent the wide dissemination of content that harms the rights of others.
  • Hate messages that incite discrimination, hostility or violence have no place on TwitterA: The spread of hate speech on social media has had terrible consequences for thousands of people. Twitter’s content moderation policies should continue to prohibit this type of hate on the platform..
  • transparency is essential: Research is essential to better understand the impact of social media on our societies. Maintain access to Twitter data through its open application programming interfaces.
  • protect privacy: Freedom of expression depends on the effective protection of privacy. It is vital that Twitter prevent intrusive user tracking and associated data collection, and to oppose, to the extent possible under applicable laws, unwarranted requests for user data by governments.
  • Languages ​​and context experience are not optional: Twitter’s responsibilities to maintain a secure and rights-compliant platform apply not only to content in English, but worldwide.

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UN open letter to Elon Musk: Ensure respect for human rights on Twitter