German digital experts fear that the purchase of microblogging platform Twitter by US entrepreneur Elon Musk may lead to an increase to hate speech online.
"The takeover of a global communications platform by a single billionaire is highly dangerous for various reasons," Anke Domscheit-Berg, spokeswoman for digital policy for the parliamentary faction of The Left in the German parliament, said in remarks published by media group RND on Wednesday.
"As Elon Musk has made no secret of his own links to conspiracy stories and right-wing circles, little good can be expected," Domscheit-Berg warned. She also called for a publicly funded alternative social network.
Green party member of parliament Renate Künast told RND: "Freedom of expression and protection against insults and defamation should not be played off against each other - online platforms must ensure both."
Despite its bests efforts, Twitter also has a major problem with hate and disinformation, Künast asserted.
Musk's announcement showed how important it is for the European Union to regulate such platforms through the Digital Services Act, Künast underscored.
Concentration of power
"We cannot naively rely on billionaire shareholders to protect the rule of law and democracy," Künast warned.
The digital policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group, Jens Zimmermann, also expressed concern. "Elon Musk promotes his Twitter takeover with more freedom of expression. The concentration of power in [the hands of] one person does not ensure that."
"There is a great danger that Musk could abuse the platform for his personal political purposes and ambitions," Zimmermann added.
Meanwhile the digital policy spokesman for the pro-business Free Democrats, Manuel Höferlin, took a wait-and-see approach, saying it would be good to wait for Musk's next steps.