Twitter leaves EU’s voluntary code of practice amidst cost-cutting, but industry commissioner Thierry Breton warns obligations remain
The EU remains ready to enforce legal obligations on disinformation against Twitter, industry commissioner Thierry Breton has said, in spite of the social media platform having left a voluntary code of practice related to the issue.
Breton announced that Twitter had withdrawn from the code of practice in a message on Twitter late on Friday. The company itself has not confirmed the move or responded to requests for comment.
“Obligations remain. You can run but you can’t hide,” Breton wrote, noting that companies such as Twitter will be legally obliged to fight disinformation under new rules coming into effect on 25 August.
“Our teams will be ready for enforcement,” Breton added.
At least one unnamed official was cited in media reports late last week as saying Twitter was likely to leave the EU voluntary code of practice against disinformation.
The code, launched last June, includes obligations such as providing regular progress reports on how much advertising revenue a company has averted from disinformatio actors, the number or value of political advertisements accepted or rejected and instances of manipulative behaviours detected.
In February the European Commission criticised Twitter’s compliance with the code, saying its efforts were falling short of those of its peers.
Other companies signed up to the code include Facebook and Instagram parent Meta, TikTok, Google, Microsoft and Twitch.
Twitter leaves EU voluntary Code of Practice against disinformation.
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.
— Thierry Breton (@ThierryBreton) May 26, 2023
But Twitter is said to have greatly reduced its moderation teams under Elon Musk, who acquired the company last October, and who has since reduced the company’s headcount by more than half in order to cut costs.
The company formerly had a dedicated team for coordinated disinformation campaigns, for instance, but those who staffed it have mostly resigned or been laid off, according to industry watchers and former Twitter employees.
The Digital Services Act (DSA), set to come into force on 25 August, legally obliges platforms with more than 45 million monthly active users in the EU – including Twitter – to take measures to remove illegal content.