Twitter Put Under ‘Stress Test’ for New Censorship Regulations in Europe

Twitter Put Under ‘Stress Test’ for New Censorship Regulations in Europe
A phone screen displays a photo of Elon Musk with the Twitter logo shown in the background in Washington on Oct. 4, 2022. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)
Naveen Athrappully
6/25/2023
Updated:
6/25/2023
0:00

European Commissioner Thierry Breton has visited Twitter’s headquarters to check on the company’s progress in complying with the European Union’s pro-censorship Digital Services Act (DSA), set to be implemented in August.

“Twitter is the 1st platform to undergo a ‘stress test’ to prepare for #DSA," Breton said in a June 23 tweet. “The company is taking this exercise very seriously. Constructive dialogue in San Francisco with @elonmusk & CEO @lindayacc ahead of the ‘real test’ on 25 August.”
The Digital Services Act, which is scheduled to take effect on Aug. 25, aims to control the power of social media networks and remove content deemed to be misinformation and hate speech.

Companies that violate the rules can be subject to fines of up to 6 percent of global annual revenue. In a worst-case scenario, the platform can be banned in the EU. DSA grants the European Commission considerable powers to monitor and regulate big tech firms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram in order to make them comply with the EU’s antitrust rules.

In late May, French Digital Minister Jean-Noel Barrot amped up pressure on Twitter, announcing that if the company fails to follow DSA’s censorship rules and remove the so-called “disinformation,” Twitter would be banned from operating in the EU.
In an interview with Breitbart, Nicolas Bay, an EU parliamentarian from France for the Reconquête party, slammed the push for censorship in the region.

“The EU claims it is fighting against misinformation, but that is a pretext used by what we call the ‘extreme center’ or the ‘far center,’” Bay said.

The real agenda is that “urban elites” want to enforce an “authoritarian project” on Europe, he said. Calling Twitter “essential to free speech and true democracy,” Bay pointed out that censoring the platform is an attempt to “steal democracy from the people” and to “promote political correctness and to spread [the EU’s] woke propaganda.”

“Despite claiming to defend fundamental rights, the EU is actually restricting freedom of speech and of thought, which are the fundamentals of a real democracy. ... This liberticide tendency is aggravating and extremely worrying,” Bay said.

Pressure on Twitter

Following Breton’s meeting at Twitter headquarters, the official told reporters that he had asked Twitter to ensure that it has “enough resources” to moderate content by Aug. 25, as it risks being in violation of the DSA if it fails to do so.

“I spoke on this specific topic with Elon Musk,” he said, according to AFP.

Breton told the Twitter team that “there are a few areas that will be critical immediately when the regulation will be enforceable ... especially everything related to child abuse which is a very hot topic for us in Europe, also disinformation in elections.”

In a June 23 post on Twitter, Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino said that “Europe is very important to Twitter, and we’re focused on our continued partnership.”
Breton’s visit to Twitter comes after Musk pulled the platform from the EU’s pro-censorship “Code of Practice” project in May. The project, a voluntary program, sought to make tech companies take action against “disinformation.”
“Twitter leaves EU voluntary Code of Practice against disinformation. But obligations remain. You can run, but you can’t hide,” Breton said in a May 27 post on Twitter.
“Beyond voluntary commitments, fighting disinformation will be legal obligation under #DSA as of August 25. Our teams will be ready for enforcement.”

DSA Regulations

The flag of the European Union flies in Berlin. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
The flag of the European Union flies in Berlin. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Under the EU’s DSA regulations, 19 platforms have been identified as “very large online platforms” that will be subject to its rules starting in late August.
The 19 firms are Alphabet’s Google Maps, Google Play, Google Search, Google Shopping, YouTube, Meta’s Facebook and Instagram, Amazon’s Marketplace, Apple’s App Store, Twitter, Microsoft’s LinkedIn and Bing, Booking.com, Pinterest, Snap Inc.’s Snapchat, TikTok, Wikipedia, Zalando, and Alibaba’s AliExpress.
In order to ensure that they align with the DSA, platforms will have to invest in building a compliance team at a time when big tech firms have ramped up layoffs. Platforms will have to provide EU officials and researchers with access to their content decisions and algorithms.

The firms will have to designate a representative to the bloc who will be responsible for content decisions in the region. Users will have the right to lodge an appeal against any takedown orders issued by platforms.

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