EU warns Elon Musk and calls on him to fight misinformation

EU warns Elon Musk and calls on him to fight misinformation

European Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton warned Twitter boss Elon Musk on Wednesday (November 30th) that he should “significantly increase efforts” to comply with EU rules, during a telephone interview.

“Let’s be clear: there is still a huge amount of work to be done” and Twitter will have to “significantly strengthen content moderation, protect freedom of expression and resolutely tackle disinformation”the commissioner told Elon Musk, according to a report of the exchange communicated to Brussels.

Artificial intelligence and human resources

Twitter announced on Tuesday the mass reinstatement of banned accounts and the end of the fight against disinformation on the Covid. Thierry Breton recalled that Elon Musk had undertaken in May to comply with the new European legislation on online platforms. “I welcome Elon Musk’s declarations of intent to have Twitter 2.0 ready” for European rules, he said.

“All this requires artificial intelligence and sufficient human resources, both in terms of numbers and skills”, underlined the commissioner, in charge of digital. He described the discussion as constructive. Elon Musk and Thierry Breton “agreed that the Commission services will carry out a stress test at Twitter’s headquarters in early 2023, which will allow Twitter to assess its compliance even before the legal deadlines”he added.

New European law

Disinformation, hate speech, counterfeits… Very large online platforms, such as Facebook, Amazon or Twitter, will have to apply “around summer 2023” new EU legislation that came into force in November to eliminate no-go areas on the internet. These rules include the obligation to act “promptly” to remove any illegal content as soon as the platform becomes aware of it, or the obligation to inform the judicial authorities when they suspect a “serious criminal offence”.

They also include prohibitions, such as the use of data “sensitive” users (gender, political leaning, religious affiliation, etc.) for targeted advertising. And transparency obligations, such as the publication of the main parameters used by recommendation systems.

The major platforms will be required to assess the risks associated with the use of their services themselves and will have to put in place the means to mitigate them, such as content moderation. They will also have to provide the regulator with access to their data and will be audited once a year, at their own expense, by independent bodies.

They will be placed directly under the supervision of the European Commission, which can impose fines of up to 6% of their worldwide turnover, or even a ban on operating in the EU in the event of repeated serious infringements. In a tweet on Wednesday evening, Thierry Breton sent a link to a reminder of the European rules published… on his Mastodon account, Twitter’s rival social network.