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X has become a ‘global sewer,’ mayor of Paris says

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                                Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo delivers her speech during a political meeting with the French Employers’ Association (MEDEF) at the Station F startup campus, in Paris, France, in February 2022. The mayor of future Olympic host city Paris says she is quitting X, accusing Elon Musk’s platform previously known as Twitter of spreading disinformation and hatred and of becoming a “gigantic global sewer” that is toxic for democracy and constructive debate.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo delivers her speech during a political meeting with the French Employers’ Association (MEDEF) at the Station F startup campus, in Paris, France, in February 2022. The mayor of future Olympic host city Paris says she is quitting X, accusing Elon Musk’s platform previously known as Twitter of spreading disinformation and hatred and of becoming a “gigantic global sewer” that is toxic for democracy and constructive debate.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced today on X, formerly known as Twitter, that she was quitting the social media site because it had devolved into a “gigantic global sewer” for disinformation, hatred, antisemitism and racism, and a “tool for destroying our democracies.”

Without naming Elon Musk directly, she added: “This platform and its owner intentionally exacerbate tensions and conflicts.”

In recent weeks, dozens of advertisers paused their campaigns on X after Musk endorsed an antisemitic conspiracy theory this month, and the company could lose as much as $75 million in ad revenue by the end of the year.

Musk has strenuously denied that he is antisemitic or that the site supports disinformation, and visited Israel today in an apparent bid to repair the damage. He met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who took him to an Israeli kibbutz where dozens of people were killed during the Hamas terrorist attack Oct. 7. Musk was scheduled to meet later with President Isaac Herzog to discuss “the need to act to combat rising antisemitism online.” Israel also appeared to reach an understanding to deploy Starlink, the satellite internet service Musk owns, in the Gaza Strip for aid agencies to use amid cellular and internet blackouts.

In a lengthy post, Hidalgo said X had veered from its original incarnation as a platform for making information freely available into one whose algorithms exacerbated attacks on people seeking peaceful political debate. “Facts are irrelevant,” she said. She further cited a report released by X that ranked France the No. 1 country in Europe for postings of “violent and illegal content.”

​​A spokesperson for X did not reply to a request for comment. A query sent to Twitter’s press office generated an automated response: “Busy now, please check back later.”

Hidalgo, a Socialist mayor who has made the environment the hallmark of her nearly 10 years in office, has herself faced a torrent of negative comments on X for policies that have included closing major streets to car traffic in order to make way for bikes and plans to limit speeds on the freeways circling Paris. She said proponents of fossil fuels had flooded X with misinformation about the need for an ecological transformation.

Hidalgo faced a stream of scrutiny on X this month after a visit to Tahiti, a French territory, where the surfing competition will take place in the 2024 Olympic Games hosted by France. After extending her stay there to include a vacation, which she paid for, a slew of criticism flooded her X feed, including calls for her to step down.

“We need more than ever to keep real democracy alive,” she wrote in her announcement today. “Twitter hinders debate, the quest for truth, and the serene and constructive dialogue needed between human beings. I refuse to endorse this evil scheme.”

Hidalgo invited people to follow her on other social media networks “in which respectful exchanges can still take place,” including Facebook, Instagram and Bluesky.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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