Twitter Agrees To Comply With New EU Disinformation Rules

Twitter performed a u-turn last week that could be an indication of the platform now being run by its new chief executive officer Linda Yaccarino.

The Guardian reported that late last week Twitteragreed to comply with tough new EU laws on fake news, Russian propaganda and online crime.

The move comes after Twitter (under then CEO Elon Musk) left the EU’s voluntary code of practice on disinformation. However  industry commissioner Thierry Breton warned that Twitter’s legal obligations on disinformation remained.

Thierry Breton. Image credit: European Parliament

Twitter withdrawal

That withdrawal came the European Commission in February slammed Twitter’s compliance with the code, saying its efforts were falling short of those of its peers.

Elon Musk had laid off 80 percent of the 7,500 workforce, and he also gutted Twitter’s external contractor teams, whose role was to ensure the platform was free of misinformation and hate – a move that has raised concern of a surge in hate speech on the platform.

However all companies such as Twitter will be legally obliged to fight disinformation under new rules (aka the Digital Services Act) coming into effect on 25 August.

The EU had warned owner Elon Musk he could face a complete ban in Europe or fines running up to 6 percent of its global revenue if it does not comply with the laws.

Late last week it was reported that a team of officials from the European Commission entered Twitter’s headquarters to stress test Twitter’s capacity to operate legally in Europe.

The Guardian reported that this was the first exercise of its kind, as EU officials were allowed into the company’s headquarters last Thursday to carry out a mock exercise with Twitter staff to test its controls on Russian propaganda, fake news, and criminal activity including child sexual exploitation.

No half measures

Thierry Breton, the commissioner responsible for enforcement of the new Digital Services Act, welcomed the fact the company voluntarily agreed to the test, the Guardian reported.

He reportedly reiterated his warning to all social media companies that the EU would act swiftly and sharply to uphold the sweeping new laws that enter into force in August.

“When it comes to online crime, there can be no half measures,” he reportedly said. “Very large online platforms need to put the necessary internal controls and resources in place to be ready for the new European rules.”

Breton made the remarks on a two-day visit to Silicon Valley.

He reportedly said Twitter still had a long way to go to get ready.

“Twitter is taking the exercise seriously and has identified the key areas on which it needs to focus to comply with the DSA,” he reportedly said. “With two months to go before the new EU regulation kicks in, work needs to continue for the systems to be in place and work effectively and quickly.”

“I told Elon Musk and Linda Yaccarino [Twitter’s chief executive] that Twitter should be very diligent in preparing to tackle illegal content in the European Union.

“Fighting disinformation, including pro-Russian propaganda, will also be a focus area in particular as we are entering a period of elections in Europe,” he reportedly said.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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