Elon Musk withdraws Twitter from European Union’s ‘voluntary Code of Practice on online disinformation’
With no pesky First Amendment to deal with, the bureaucrats of the European Union have a relatively easy time dictating what the truth is, and what is not allowed to be part of the public conversation. But “free speech absolutist” Elon Musk wants nothing to do with it and has withdrawn Twitter from the EU’s “voluntary Code of Practice against disinformation,” as if the “voluntary” part of that name is not itself disinformation.
But that may not be the case, as EU Commissioner Thierry Breton is already issuing not-so-veiled threats.
Natasha Lomas reports for Tech Crunch:
Twitter has withdrawn from the European Union’s Code of Practice on online disinformation, per the bloc’s internal market commissioner, Thierry Breton.
In a tweet last night — which confirmed earlier reports of Twitter’s impending exit from the EU Code — Breton issued the social media platform with a blunt warning: Telling Twitter it cannot hide from incoming legal liability in this area.
Twitter leaves EU voluntary Code of Practice against disinformation.— Thierry Breton (@ThierryBreton) May 26, 2023
But obligations remain. You can run but you can’t hide.
Beyond voluntary commitments, fighting disinformation will be legal obligation under #DSA as of August 25.
Our teams will be ready for enforcement.
The DSA [Digital Services Act] that Monsieur Thierry references took effect last November and allows the bureaucrats to classify certain platforms as VLOPs (very large online platforms) or VLOSEs (very large online search engines), and subject them to extra stringent reporting and regulatory supervision.
Ms. Lomas notes:
Previous management at Twitter signed the platform up to the voluntary EU Code on Disinformation back in 2018. But Twitter’s current owner, billionaire Elon Musk, looks intent on picking a fight with the EU over speech moderation — belying early remarks he made to Breton in person when Musk had claimed to be on board with the bloc’s digital rulebook.
This is an expensive fight for Musk to pick. Breaches of the DSA can attract penalties of up to 6% of global annual turnover.
The Commission has also warned that serious, repeated non-compliance could lead it to block access to a service — which dangles the prospect of Twitter losing access to a region with some 440 million consumers.
Musk appears to be defiant and may be preparing to pull Twitter out of Europe, which has always been a “secondary market” for it, according to Lomas, who, incidentally, terms Twitter under Musk as “far right.” According to her,
A request for comment emailed to Twitter’s press office returned an automated reply containing a poop emoji.
Pixy Misa of Ace of Spades Headquarters sums it up:
The media, and the bureaucrats, who believe they have the sole right to spread disinformation, are taking this about about [sic] as well as can be expected, with Thierry Breton, head of the European Union's Josef Goebbels Memorial Happy Fun Time Administration, issuing unveiled threats.
What they're really upset about is that Twitter isn't playing the game