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Twitter leaves EU’s voluntary pact against disinformation


Elon Musk’s Twitter has pulled out of the European Union’s voluntary code to fight disinformation, Thierry Breton, the bloc’s internal market commissioner, has said.

Other major technology companies such as Google, Microsoft, Meta, TikTok, and Twitch have pledged to support the disinformation “code of practice.”

But Breton tweeted that Twitter has now pulled out of the agreement, which requires companies to measure their work on combating disinformation and issue regular reports on their progress.

Twitter, owned by eccentric billionaire Musk since late 2022, responded to media enquiries with an automated poop emoji as per usual. However, Breton stressed that the company was still obliged to follow the EU’s rules.

“Obligations remain. You can run but you can’t hide. Beyond voluntary commitments, fighting disinformation will be legal obligation under #DSA as of August 25th,” Breton said.

DSA is a new European law called the Digital Services Act which will become effective in August. The new legislation makes it mandatory for large social media sites to monitor and flag disinformation.

Simply put, what is now voluntary will soon become a mandatory legal requirement under the DSA. “Our teams will be ready for enforcement,” Breton said.

This means that Twitter might face hefty financial penalties under the DSA. The fines can reach up to 6% of the companies’ annual revenue if they don’t clean up their act.

It certainly doesn’t help that Musk has more than once described himself as a free-speech absolutist, and regularly makes statements against content moderation. As expected, Twitter has already loosened up its verification and moderation policies.

The signs that the EU is not happy with what’s happening at Twitter are already visible. After the platform failed to provide a full report to the EU on its efforts to combat disinformation in February, the bloc’s top officials blasted Twitter.

“I am disappointed to see that Twitter report lags behind others and I expect a more serious commitment to their obligations stemming from the Code,” Vera Jourova, the European Commission’s executive vice president for values and transparency, said in a statement.

Speculation is now rife that Musk might choose to leave the EU market before the bloc imposes massive fines on the struggling firm or bans it altogether.


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