Members of the European Union have expressed concerns that billionaire Elon Musk’s Twitter may struggle to comply with the continent’s content moderation rules in the lead-up to its first deadline. The warning comes after the European Commission named Twitter as one of 19 groups that will fall under its strictest content-moderation rules, giving the social media company four months to comply.
Concerns Over Twitter’s Compliance to the EU’s Content Moderation Rules
Commission Vice President Vera Jourova criticised Twitter’s performance in adhering to the anti-disinformation Code, noting the disinformation spread by authoritarian regimes is gaining more traction on the website due to changes in the way it polices content. Jourova made her comments via Twitter on Wednesday, in response to an Associated Press news story.
The businesses that fall under the EU’s strictest content-moderation rules include Twitter, Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Youtube, ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok, Meta Platforms Inc.’s Facebook and Instagram and others that have more than 45 million monthly active users in Europe. These businesses have been given a deadline to comply, and not doing so can cost them as much as 6% of their annual revenue or even lead to a platform ban.
Twitter’s ability to comply with the EU’s strict content moderation rules is being questioned by officials, who have expressed concern over the company’s workforce. While Twitter is capable of promptly responding to requests from the US, doubts have been raised over its ability to do so in the EU.
Compliance with the DSA legislation in August is a particular concern, as many of the rules are time-consuming and expensive to implement. For example, companies must establish a system for users to flag potentially illegal content, restructure their websites to prevent the targeting of minors with ads, and make data accessible to researchers.
The EU’s Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said the 19 systemic platforms and search engines will have to redesign their system to ensure a high level of privacy, security and safety of minors. They will be subject to yearly independent audits, which will be very tough and rigorous supervision by the commission. Non-compliance can lead to severe penalties for these companies.
Elon Musk’s Efforts to Comply
Despite Elon Musk’s efforts to assure the European Union that he would be involved in ensuring Twitter’s compliance with content moderation rules, the social media giant’s first attempt to demonstrate compliance earlier this year fell short of expectations.
The commission had asked companies to voluntarily complete a form showing examples of how they adhere to the code of practice on disinformation and plans for future policies. Twitter’s filing failed to answer several questions, drawing the ire of politicians. Breton has said the commission will perform a “stress test” at the end of June with Twitter to see how well it can comply with the DSA.
Carme Artigas, Spain’s secretary of state for digitisation and artificial intelligence, has noted that not complying with European regulation is like not being able to operate in Europe. It remains to be seen how well Twitter and the other designated companies will comply with the EU’s strict content-moderation rules and whether they will face penalties or even a platform ban for non-compliance.