Twitter Withdraws from EU’s Voluntary Disinformation Code, Faces New Compliance Laws
Twitter has decided to withdraw from the European Union’s voluntary code aimed at combating disinformation, as announced by Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, via his Twitter account. Breton warned that new legislation would soon compel compliance, stating, “Obligations remain. You can run but you can’t hide.”
Starting from August 25, Twitter will be legally obligated to combat disinformation within the EU, with Breton affirming that the necessary enforcement measures will be in place. While Twitter has not officially confirmed its stance on the code, the company has not responded to requests for comment.
The EU’s disinformation code, launched in June of the previous year, has garnered participation from numerous technology companies, ranging from large corporations like Meta (the parent company of Facebook and Instagram), TikTok, Google, Microsoft, and Twitch, to smaller firms. The code’s objectives include preventing the exploitation of disinformation and fake news for profit, enhancing transparency, and curbing the proliferation of bots and fake accounts.
Signatory companies are allowed to choose which commitments they make under the code, such as collaborating with fact-checkers or monitoring political advertising.
Under Elon Musk’s leadership, Twitter has reportedly experienced a significant reduction in moderation efforts, leading critics to argue that it has facilitated the spread of disinformation. Former Twitter employees and experts claim that the dedicated team responsible for countering coordinated disinformation campaigns has largely disbanded, either through resignations or layoffs.
Just last month, the BBC uncovered numerous Russian and Chinese state propaganda accounts thriving on the platform.
However, Mr. Musk, the CEO of Twitter, contends that since assuming control in October of the previous year, there has been “less misinformation rather than more.”
In addition to the voluntary code, the EU has enacted the Digital Services Act (DSA), which imposes greater obligations on companies to combat illegal online content. As of August 25, platforms with over 45 million monthly active users in the EU, including Twitter, will be legally bound by the DSA’s provisions.
The legislation will require Twitter to establish a mechanism for users to report illegal content, respond to notifications promptly, and implement measures to address the dissemination of disinformation.
An official from the European Commission, quoted by AFP news agency, remarked, “If (Elon Musk) doesn’t take the code seriously, then it’s better that he quits.” The statement underscores the seriousness with which the EU expects social media platforms to address the challenges posed by disinformation.