Twitter's Decision to Withdraw from the EU Disinformation Code Could Lead to Conflict with Regulators
Twitter's recent decision to withdraw from the European Union's voluntary Code of Practice on online disinformation has raised eyebrows and concerns, with the possibility of a future clash with EU regulators looming large. The Code, which forms part of the Digital Services Act (DSA), aims to establish clearer reporting and enforcement obligations for large online platforms, tackling the spread of misinformation, scammers, and spammers.
While the withdrawal itself is surprising, the potential implications for Twitter are more concerning, as compliance with the Code counts towards meeting the new standards set by the DSA. Though the commitment is voluntary, Twitter's move could be interpreted as a refusal to abide by these new obligations, which might result in violations of EU law. In turn, this could lead to fines or even suspension of the platform within EU member states.
This development adds a new dimension to the ongoing relationship between Twitter and EU regulators, which has been under scrutiny since Elon Musk took over the company. In November, Musk met with EU market commissioner Thierry Breton to discuss the company's obligations, with Musk pledging to comply with the required standards. However, a preliminary compliance report in February revealed that Twitter had not met many of its reporting obligations, with a lack of data and commitment to empower fact-checking communities.
These issues may stem from Musk's stance on fact-checking, believing that the Twitter community should determine the veracity of content through features like Community Notes. Musk has consistently argued that mainstream media is misleading the public and that Twitter can serve as an alternative to corporate-funded propaganda. However, this perspective could put him at odds with new EU requirements that place greater responsibility on digital platforms to police misinformation promptly and effectively.
In conclusion, Twitter's withdrawal from the EU Disinformation Code signals a potential conflict with regulators in the future. The platform's reluctance to adhere to these new standards could lead to significant penalties, including fines of up to 6% of Twitter's European revenue. Whether this decision comes as a result of Musk's views on misinformation or other factors remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: Twitter's path forward in the EU is now more precarious than ever.