When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

TOPIC: free speech

Future

Twitter Woke-Bashing With A Shot Of AI — On The Meaning Of Language, Circa 2023

For Worldcrunch’s editor-in-chief, the arrival of ChatGPT, a stunningly powerful AI-driven tool for automated writing, combined with the rising noise on social media, have brought us to a troubling inflection point in the way we communicate with each other.

-Analysis-

PARIS — It came up in my Twitter feed late last Sunday night. Like so much flashing across our phones these days, the words and source and visual elements get processed by our eyes-and-brains in a split second.

Should I stay or should I scroll?

It was a brief, flatly worded, yet provocative text with attached screenshot from the account of a certain @pmarca. I would stay.

If you’re on Twitter and interested in technology or finance, you’ll probably recognize the handle as belonging to Marc Andreessen, undisputed Silicon Valley nobility who founded the Netscape internet browser in the 1990s, before settling into an extra successful career as venture capitalist, big thinker and sometimes provocateur. Among other things, he coined the phrase “software is eating the world” and is mentor to such younger tech founders as Mark Zuckerberg.

Watch Video Show less

Free Speech v. Sexual Deviance: French Cartoonist Accused Of Promoting Pedophilia And Incest

The prestigious Angoulême International Comics Festival has cancelled the participation of Bastien Vivès, a leading French cartoonist, after a petition accused both drawings and comments that seem to justify pedophilia and incest. The festival cited risks of violence after threats were made online against Vivès.

This story has been updated Dec. 14, 8 p.m. local time

From Charlie Hebdo to Xavier Gorce to R. Crumb, cartoonists in France have a history of provocation and courting controversy—and generally receive French public support in return. But the latest provocateur, Bastien Vivès, may have crossed the line on the limits of free speech and artistic expression.

The 38-year-old comic book artist from Paris is facing a sudden backlash to work from four years ago that has resurfaced, as well as more recent comments, that critics charge excuse, or even promote, incest and pedophilia.

Keep reading... Show less

Absolute Free Speech Is A Recipe For Violence: Notes From Paris For Monsieur Musk

Elon Musk bought Twitter in the name of absolute freedom. But numerous research shows that social media hate speech leads to actual violence. Musk and others running social networks need to strike a balance.

-Analysis-

PARIS — Elon Musk is the world's leading reckless driver. The ever unpredictable CEO of Tesla and SpaceX is now behind a very different wheel as the new head of Twitter.

He began by banning remote work before slightly backtracking and authorizing it for the company’s “significant contributors.” Now he’s opened the door to Donald Trump to return to Twitter, while at the same time vaunting a decrease in the number of hate-messages that appear on the social network…all while firing Twitter’s content moderation teams.

But this time, the world’s richest man will have to make choices. He’ll have to limit his otherwise unconditional love of free speech. “Freedom consists of being able to do everything that does not harm others,” proclaimed the French-born Declaration of the Rights of Man in 1789.

Yet freedom on social networks results not only in insults and defamation, but sometimes also in physical aggression.

Keep reading... Show less

Is Elon Watching? How Chaos At Twitter Could Impact Iranian Protesters

Two anonymous Iranian Twitter users spoke about their hopes that Iran's protests could hasten the end of the unpopular regime, and what Elon Musk's takeover of the the platform could mean for them.

The world has been paying special attention to the scope and endurance of anti-state protests in Iran that erupted in September after the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. A key to maintaining momentum and attention has been social media, with users and activists eager to stay in contact and communicate around what many in Iran hope will be the movement to end the 40-year Islamist reign.

Social media's role in resisting oppressive regimes dates back to the protests of the Arab Spring, and more than 10 years later, Twitter in particular (with the option to have an anonymous account) is being used again in Iran.

However, since Elon Musk's takeover of the platform, serious concerns have been raised about whether the platform will survive. Ciaran O’Connor, senior analyst at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, said in an interview that "If Twitter was to ‘go in the morning’, let's say, all of this—all of the firsthand evidence of atrocities or potential war crimes, and all of this potential evidence—would simply disappear."

Keep reading... Show less
Ideas
Nolan Higdon

Elon Musk Wants Twitter For The Big Data, Not The Free Speech

Oligarchs of the ‘Second Gilded Age’ in the like of Elon Musk are already able to influence the public's minds through media ownership. But getting a hand on Twitter means having access to its users' data and exploiting it for financial purposes.

During the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, and the early decades of the 20th century, U.S. captains of industry such as William Randolph Hearst and Jay Gould used their massive wealth to dominate facets of the economy, including the news media. They were, in many ways, prototype oligarchs — by the dictionary definition, “very rich business leaders with a great deal of political influence.”

Some have argued that the U.S. is in the midst of a Second Gilded Age defined — like the first — by vast wealth inequality, hyper-partisanship, xenophobia and a new crop of oligarchs using their vast wealth to purchase media and political influence.

Watch Video Show less
Ideas
Anna Akage

The Edge Of Totalitarianism, Why Putin Went Easy On Marina Ovsyannikova

When Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova interrupted Monday’s nightly news with an anti-war protest, most figured her stunning act of political courage would be brutally punished. But she’s received just a small fine and continues to move and speak freely in Moscow. Paradoxically, it may actually be the final tack in Vladimir Putin’s brutal, unpredictable propaganda machine.

-Analysis-

It was a lone act of extreme political courage that brought the world back to the 1989 images of “Tank Man” of Tiananmen Square.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

On the night of March 15, Marina Ovsyannikova, a veteran journalist on Russia's leading state TV newscast, burst into the studio holding up a sign that read "No war ... you are being lied to here."

Watch Video Show less
Geopolitics
Han Liying

In Singapore, Facebook Offers No Refuge For Freedom Of Speech

The city-state's leadership has never tolerated too much political dissent; and now when it comes in the Facebook variety, officials are using the courts to silence critics.

SINGAPORE — About two years ago, Leong Sze Hian, a sixty-five-year-old financial advisor in Singapore, did what countless others do every day: He shared an article on his Facebook page.

What he didn't know, was that by doing so he'd soon find himself in a protracted legal battle with none other than the city-state's prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, who chose to sue Mr. Leong for defamation.

Watch Video Show less
Turkey
Can Dundar

No Assassin, Nor Erdogan, Will Silence Us — Can Dundar Recounts Shooting

The Turkish editor and a lonely press critic of President Erdogan was the target of a gunman who screamed "traitor" before firing outside an Istanbul courthouse. Dundar tells of his wife's courage and his own determination to speak truth

Can Dündar is the editor-in-chief of Cumhuriyet. Together with Erdem Gul, the newspaper's Ankara bureau chief, Dundar has already served prison time for charges linked to his journalism. On Friday, the pair was again convicted on charges of revealing state secrets. But even more shocking, a gunman tried to kill Dundar outside the courthouse. Here is his first reaction:

ISTANBUL — What a day. We'd left the courthouse to have tea after the court took a few hours break before the verdict. I was with my wife Dilek and CHP (Republican People's Party) Parliamentary Deputy Muharrem Erkek.

Watch Video Show less
LA STAMPA
Anabel Hernandez*

The Death Of Freedom In My Corrupt Mexico

A Mexican journalist's corruption investigations led to death threats and persecution against her. She has been forced to flee her country, but many of her colleagues were murdered before they could do the same.

-Essay-

MEXICO CITY — Mexican news photographer Ruben Espinosa said in July that "death has chosen Veracruz as his home and decided to live there." Thirty days later, death found Espinosa in his Mexico City apartment, where he was discovered with a gunshot to his head.

Watch Video Show less
Geopolitics
Alain Renaut

France And The Multiculturalism Paradox

-OpEd-

PARIS — Although the time for emotion and indignation about the recent terrorism in France is barely over, the moment for deeper reflection has arrived. What needs serious consideration, without prejudice or exaggeration, is the French way of dealing with cultural pluralism. The link between this subject and recent events is plain to see.

Watch Video Show less
Geopolitics
Brice Pedroletti

The Nanfang Street Movement, Heirs To Tiananmen

A visit in southern China to a movement afoot to openly challenge the regime. It remains, 25 years after the Tiananmen Square protest was crushed, a risky affair.

GUANGZHOU — It was raining the day three militants, accompanied by a fourth there to photograph the scene, unfurled a banner reading, "A party is not the same as a country. The Chinese Communist Party doesn't represent the people."

In the center of the photo from that day, 23-year-old Jia Pin is holding up another message that reads, "Democracy, Liberty, Human Rights, Constitutional Government." At his side a follower carries an even more incendiary one that says, "Unelected parties are outlaws."

Watch Video Show less
China
Chen Jieren

A VIP Rape Case Tests The Limits Of Free Speech In China

Li Tianyi, son of a famous Chinese general, is currently being tried in a case of alleged gang rape along with four of his friends. Referring to this ongoing case, Yi Yanyou, a law professor at Tsinghua University, declared on his microblog account last week: “Even if it was rape, the harm of raping a bar hostess is less than raping a woman from a good family.”

After widespread criticism in the media and on the Internet, Yi deleted the statement and openly apologized for his words.

Watch Video Show less