Elon Musk now owns Twitter after the social media platform accepted his $44 billion bid on April 25. But the European Union has already warned Musk that they will not allow him to play by his own rules in Europe.
After acquiring Twitter, Musk released a statement that he plans to make Twitter “better than ever,” CNN reported.
“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” Musk said in the statement. “Twitter has tremendous potential — I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.”
But Thierry Breton, the EU’s commissioner for the internal market, responded to Musk’s aspirations with a warning that Twitter would be fined or even banned if it does not follow the EU’s regulations and rules, the Financial Times reported.
Breton said he wanted offer Musk a “reality check” on his big ideas for free speech.
“We welcome everyone. We are open but on our conditions. At least we know what to tell him: ‘Elon, there are rules. You are welcome, but these are our rules. It’s not your rules which will apply here,’” Breton said.
Just a few days before Musk’s deal went through, the EU enacted a new piece of legislation forcing Big Tech to more aggressively police online content.
The Digital Services Act, which will begin to be enforced in a few months, is an update to the EU’s 20-year-old e-commerce directive, Euro News reported.
The original directive was born when tech giants like Facebook and Amazon were in their early stages and the aim is to end abuse or lawlessness on the internet.
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The new regulations of the Digital Services Act more specifically enforce that social media platforms have to “promptly” remove any illegal content (illegal as defined by national and European laws).
The new act also obliges social media platforms to suspend any users who “frequently” break the law.
Platforms will also be audited once a year by independent bodies and will be supervised by the European Commission, which has the power to impose fines of up to 6 percent of annual sales if there are repeated violations of the rules.
With these new regulations coming into place, Breton wanted to make Musk aware.
“Anyone who wants to benefit from this market will have to fulfil our rules. The board [of Twitter] will have to make sure that if it operates in Europe it will have to fulfil the obligations, including moderation, open algorithms, freedom of speech, transparency in rules, obligations to comply with our own rules for hate speech, revenge porn [and] harassment,” Breton said.
“If [Twitter] does not comply with our law, there are sanctions — 6 per cent of the revenue and, if they continue, banned from operating in Europe,” he added.
Breton also pointed out in a tweet, that regardless of shareholders, if a company wants to operate in Europe, they have to play by Europe’s rules and Musk knows this.
“Be it cars or social media, any company operating in Europe needs to comply with our rules – regardless of their shareholding. Mr Musk knows this well,” he tweeted.
Be it cars or social media, any company operating in Europe needs to comply with our rules – regardless of their shareholding.
Mr Musk knows this well.
He is familiar with European rules on automotive, and will quickly adapt to the Digital Services Act.#DSA
— Thierry Breton (@ThierryBreton) April 26, 2022
While Musk’s more specific plans and changes are still unknown, this is a significant warning that could reshape how Twitter will be run in Europe.