EU warns Musk of Twitter ban if platform fails to comply with disinformation rules

Thierry Breton, EU commissioner for the internal market, warns Twitter owner Elon Musk 'there is still huge work ahead'

Elon Musk said that under previous management, Twitter had 'failed in trust and safety for a very long time'. Reuters
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Twitter boss Elon Musk must do more to fight disinformation to comply with European Union law, warned the bloc's top official for enforcing digital regulation.

Thierry Breton, the EU commissioner for the internal market, held a video call with Mr Musk and told him “there is still huge work ahead” to bring the platform in line with Brussels' rules.

Mr Breton posted a brief, silent video clip of his videoconference on Mr Musk's platform Twitter, but followed it up with a link to a longer statement on the rival Mastodon network.

“I welcome Elon Musk's statements of intent to get Twitter 2.0 ready for the DSA,” Mr Breton said, referring to the EU Digital Services Act, Brussels' overarching internet law

“But let's also be clear that there is still huge work ahead.

“Twitter will have to implement transparent user policies, significantly reinforce content moderation and protect freedom of speech, tackle disinformation with resolve and limit targeted advertising.”

He also warned Silicon Valley companies to be prepared for a European audit of their procedures.

Mr Musk did not directly reply to Mr Breton's post but in a separate tweet responding to another user, he agreed that under previous management, Twitter had “failed in trust and safety for a very long time”.

“Twitter 2.0 will be far more effective, transparent and even-handed,” he promised.

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The DSA was passed last year and will enter into force next year after tech companies have had time to comply with stricter European orders to remove harmful or deliberately misleading content.

Firms that are found not to be in compliance face fines of up to 6 per cent of their global turnover or even a ban on operating in the EU, a huge market of more than 440 million people.

Tech companies lobbied EU policymakers heavily before the law passed but most say they will strive to comply with the rules — though Mr Musk's behaviour since buying Twitter last month has raised alarm.

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A self-described “free speech absolutist”, Mr Musk has already sacked many of the Twitter employees whose jobs focused on content moderation and maintaining ties with Brussels regulators.

He has also begun to allow Twitter users banned from the platform for posting misinformation, such as former US president Donald Trump, to return.

On Wednesday, it surfaced that Twitter has also stopped enforcing a rule preventing users from sharing misleading information about Covid-19 and vaccine effectiveness.

Such moves represent red flags for Brussels, anxious to know whether a large and influential platform such as Twitter will fall into line with the DSA.

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Updated: November 30, 2022, 10:42 PM