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28 May, 2023 20:37

EU commissioner reprimands Musk over disinfo

The Twitter CEO pulled the platform out of the voluntary Code of Practice on Disinformation
EU commissioner reprimands Musk over disinfo

European Commissioner Thierry Breton threatened Twitter CEO Elon Musk with “enforcement” in a tweet on Friday after Musk announced he was pulling Twitter out of the EU’s voluntary Code of Practice on Disinformation, warning he was not getting away so easily. 

Confirming Twitter had left the anti-disinformation body, Breton, who has responsibility for the EU's internal market, tweeted, “You can run but you can’t hide,” promising “our teams will be ready for enforcement.”  

“Beyond voluntary commitments, fighting disinformation will be legal obligation under [the Digital Service Act] as of August 25,” the official reminded Musk, referring to incoming legislation that will require Twitter and seven other social media platforms to “fight disinformation” in the EU or face massive fines as high as 6% of the company’s annual revenue. 

Twitter joined the CPD in 2018 under former CEO Jack Dorsey. The DSA incorporates the (voluntary) Code of Practice into a mandatory code of conduct for very large online platforms, arguing they must take responsibility for keeping the internet safe for democracy or face ruinous financial consequences. Twitter has three months to comply with its obligations.  

While Musk and Breton reportedly saw eye-to-eye regarding Twitter’s implementation of the DSA ahead of the billionaire’s purchase of the platform last year, Breton warned the Tesla tycoon that Twitter faced “huge work ahead” to comply with EU regulations after the deal was completed in November, demanding he significantly beef up content moderation and “tackle disinformation with resolve.”   

As of February, Twitter was still falling short of Breton’s expectations, reportedly receiving a warning from EU officials following a poor performance evaluation on the CPD accompanied by complaints that the platform “didn’t take it seriously enough.”  

Musk has struggled to convince Twitter users of the sincerity of his free speech absolutism since hiring NBCUniversal ad maven and World Economic Forum member Linda Yaccarino as the platform’s new CEO earlier this month. This comes despite his taking a gratuitous swipe at liberal bogeyman and fellow billionaire George Soros and hosting Republican presidential candidate and anti-woke crusader Ron DeSantis’ announcement of entry into the 2024 race.  

Twitter has complied with 80% of all government takedown requests in the first six months since Musk took over as CEO, a significant increase from the 50% rate that characterized the pre-Musk era.

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