EU Threatens To Ban Twitter Unless Musk Censors More Content

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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The European Union’s industry chief warned Elon Musk of the possibility Twitter could be banned in member states unless Musk adheres to a set of strict content moderation policies in a video meeting Wednesday, the Financial Times reported.

The EU’s Thierry Breton told Musk he must avoid an “arbitrary” approach to reviving accounts of banned users, “aggressively” root out disinformation and agree to an “extensive independent audit” for Twitter by the end of the year under new EU legislation, FT reported, citing people with knowledge of the conversation. Musk has come under fire for driving the decisions on reinstating accounts banned for allegedly promoting “disinformation” or violence and adopting a haphazard approach to developing content moderation policies.

“There is still huge work ahead, as Twitter will have to implement transparent user policies, significantly reinforce content moderation and protect freedom of speech, tackle disinformation with resolve, and limit targeted advertising,” Breton said, according to a readout of the conversation shared by the European Commission with the Daily Caller News Foundation. (RELATED: Get ‘Hardcore’ Or Get Out, Musk Tells Twitter Employees)

Musk, a self-described free speech champion, promised to permit all speech on the platform provided the content did not violate laws of the relevant jurisdictions in which it operates, but “negative/hate speech” will be “deboosted,” according to FT.

Musk recently scrapped plans to institute a “independent moderation council” and removed preexisting rules on censoring alleged COVID-19 misinformation.

The EU also demanded Musk develop a set of clear, universal criteria for banning users, FT reported. Musk brought former President Donald Trump’s account back after conducting a Twitter poll, and while some controversial accounts, such as those belonging to Kanye West and Andrew Tate, have been restored, others, including Alex Jones, remain banned.

EU regulators previously voiced concerns about Musk’s ability to bring Twitter in line with the Digital Services Act (DSA), which came into force in November, after Musk fired half of Twitter’s staff and signaled potentially suppressed capacity to ensure data protection, according to the FT. The DSA adds additional layers of accountability for larger online platforms and also subjects them to centralized oversight by the European Commission.

In addition, the DSA would require Twitter to ban targeted advertising for minors and boost efforts to remove or restrict “harmful and illegal content.” Companies that violate the DSA could face fines of “up to 6% of global turnover” and could be subject to a total ban in the case of repeated violations.

Musk committed to abiding by EU laws in a May 9 meeting and apparently expressed support for the DSA. Musk and Breton agreed to perform a stress test of the platform in early 2023, according to the readout.

“I am pleased to hear that he has read [the DSA] carefully and considers it as a sensible approach to implement on a worldwide basis,” Breton said, according to the readout.

Musk could not be reached for comment.

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