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How the EU could thwart Musk’s plans for Twitter: QuickTake


Elon Musk’s reduction in content moderation and other safeguards at Twitter has put it on a collision course with the European Union. The billionaire has vowed to bring “freedom of speech” back to the social media platform. He has also promised to abide by national laws and tried to reassure concerned EU officials that he will uphold strict standards on hate speech and disinformation set out in the bloc’s new digital services law. The exit of about half of Twitter’s workforce since Musk bought the company in October complicates this.

1. What could get Twitter into trouble?

The DSA is a response to concerns that social media has done too little to prevent the spread of objectionable or misleading content that destabilizes politics and society and harms the vulnerable. It gives regulators more powers to force Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other platforms to remove content they deem illegal. The companies must also demonstrate that they engage in content that is not strictly illegal but may be harmful, such as: B. Disinformation. If they fall short, the EU’s executive commission can force them to change their algorithms and policies. France’s media regulator has expressed concern about Twitter’s ability to maintain a safe environment for its users following the downsizing.

2. How can the EU get Twitter to comply?

Its regulators can impose harsh demands and fines of up to 6% of Twitter’s annual revenue. They could authorize raids on its offices to see if it is doing what it promised and use what they discover to force broader changes in its practices. Ultimately, they have the power to ban Twitter from operating on the block.

3. What other rules does Twitter have to follow in Europe?

The region has some of the strictest privacy regulations in the world, making social media companies liable for user data breaches and forcing them to obtain their consent before targeting ads to specific user groups. The risk for Twitter is that less staff to ensure security leaves the platform at risk of hacks that leak user data. Twitter’s privacy chief left after Musk took over and was replaced by an acting official. Managers in the UK and Ireland have also left, while Twitter’s France boss announced his departure in a tweet on November 20. The company has stated that it still complies with the EU General Data Protection Regulation.

4. What must Twitter do?

The DSA went into effect on November 16, and Twitter has a lot to do in the coming months to comply with the new rules. The platform has long battled perceptions that it has failed to deal with hate speech and disinformation. A mechanism needs to be added for users to easily report illegal content. It also needs to show that it has enough moderators to review content in every EU country. The EU’s formal oversight process begins in 2023, when Twitter will have to publish its user numbers. Also, it must provide a risk assessment showing how it reduces the amount of legal but harmful content. Hours after Musk finalized his $44 billion deal for the company, European Commissioner Thierry Breton sent a warning to the new owner, urging the company to “play by our rules.” Twitter’s ability to advocate for its interests took a hit in November after the company lost the last of its remaining employees at the bloc’s regulatory center in Brussels.

5. Is it only the EU that could thwart Musk’s plans?

no The US Supreme Court will hear two cases that could hold social media companies liable for algorithms that promote illegal or harmful content. This could dramatically change the way companies moderate content in the US. In India, Twitter has sued the government over a new law that essentially gives authorities the power to censor social media posts. It’s unclear whether Musk will proceed with the lawsuit or comply with the new legislation.

For more stories like this, visit bloomberg.com

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