EU Stands Off With Musk in Content Moderation Warning for Twitter
Thierry Breton, European commissioner for the Internal Market.(John Thys/AFP via Getty Images)
By Nick Koutsobinas | Tuesday, 26 April 2022 06:56 PM
The European Union on Tuesday announced that Twitter's prospective new owner, Elon Musk, must ''quickly adapt'' to its new rules for online platforms, which were completed last week, or risk being fined.
''Be it cars or social media, any company operating in Europe needs to comply with our rules – regardless of their shareholding. Mr Musk knows this well,'' Thierry Breton, the European Commission's internal market commissioner, tweeted. ''He is familiar with European rules on automotive, and will quickly adapt to the Digital Services Act.''
The commission is the EU's executive branch.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Breton warned Musk that ''there are rules. You are welcome but these are our rules. It's not your rules which will apply here.''
Breton's warning comes as the EU is set to establish in the coming weeks the parts of a new social media policy, the Digital Services Act, originally proposed in December 2020, which would place new restrictions on social media. Failing to comply with tje EU's upcoming law, Breton added, could result in a company being sanctioned ''6% of the revenue and, if they continue, banned from operating in Europe.''
According to The New York Times, the act, which ''would begin taking effect by next year, does not order internet platforms to remove specific forms of speech, leaving that to individual countries to define. (Certain forms of hate speech and references to Nazism are illegal in Germany but not in other European countries.) The law forces companies to add ways for users to flag illicit content.''
''Inspired by the war in Ukraine and the pandemic,'' the Times added that ''policymakers gave regulators additional power to force internet companies to respond quickly during a national security or health crisis. This could include stopping the spread of certain state propaganda on social media during a war or the online sale of bogus medical supplies and drugs during a pandemic.''
But the new policycould be a point of contention between the EU and Musk, who said that his original reason for buying Twitter, according to Axios, was to rid the platform of unnecessary content moderation.
Speaking at a TED conference earlier this year, the Tesla CEO asked: ''Is someone you don't like allowed to say something you don't like? If that is the case, then we have free speech. It's damn annoying, but that is the sign of a healthy, functioning free speech situation.''
On Monday, Musk tweeted a screenshot of him being quoted as saying that ''free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy,'' and that Twitter is ''the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.''