LONDON — A senior European Union official warned Elon Musk Wednesday that Twitter needs to strengthen measures to protect users of hate speech, misinformation and other harmful content to avoid violating new rules that threaten tech giants with large fines or even a ban in the 27-nation bloc.
Thierry Breton, the EU commissioner for digital policy, told the billionaire Tesla CEO that the social media platform will have to significantly increase efforts to comply with the new rulesknown as the Digital Services Law, which will come into force next year.
The two held a video call to discuss Twitter’s readiness for the law, which will require tech companies to better police their platforms for material that, for example, promotes terrorism, child sexual abuse, hate speech and business scams.
is part of a new digital regulation that has made Europe the world’s leading push to rein in the power of social media companies, which could clash with Musk’s vision of a freer Twitter. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also said Wednesday that an investigation into Musk’s $44 billion purchase was not off the table.
Breton said he was pleased to hear that Musk views the EU rules as «a sensible approach to implement globally.»
“But let’s also clarify that there is still a lot of work ahead of us,” Musk said, according to a reading of the call released by Breton’s office. «Twitter will need to implement transparent user policies, significantly strengthen content moderation and protect free speech, tackle misinformation resolutely, and limit targeted advertising.»
After Musk, a self-described «free speech absolutist,» bought Twitter a month ago, groups that monitor the platform for racist, anti-Semitic and other toxic speech, such as the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, say it has been on the rise in the world. de facto digital public square.
Musk has signaled his interest in rolling back many of Twitter’s previous rules intended to combat misinformation, most recently by leave the application of your misinformation COVID-19 politics. he already reinstated some high-profile accounts that violated Twitter’s content rules and promised a «general amnesty» that would restore most suspended accounts starting this week.
Twitter did not respond to an email request for comment. In a separate blog post on Wednesday, the company said that «human safety» is its top priority and that its trust and safety team «continues its diligent work to keep the platform safe from hateful conduct, abusive behavior, and any breaches.» of the Twitter rules».
Musk, however, has laid off half of the company’s 7,500-person workforcealong with an untold number of contractors responsible for content moderation. Many others have resignedincluding the company’s trust and safety officer.
In Wednesday’s call, Musk agreed to allow the EU’s Executive Commission to conduct a «stress test» at Twitter’s headquarters early next year to help the platform comply with the new rules ahead of schedule. , according to the reading.
That will also help the company prepare for an «extensive independent audit» as required by the new law, which is intended to protect Internet users from illegal content and reduce the spread of harmful but legal material.
Violations can lead to huge fines of up to 6% of a company’s annual global revenue or even a ban from operating in the single market of the European Union.
Along with European regulators, Musk risks running afoul of Apple and Google, which power most of the world’s smartphones. Both have strict policies against misinformation, hate speech and other misconduct, previously enforced to boot apps like the Parler social media platform from their devices. Apps must also meet certain performance, privacy, and data security standards.
Musk tweeted without providing evidence this week that Apple «threatened to remove Twitter from its App Store, but won’t tell us why.» Apple has not commented, but Musk retracted his claim on Wednesday, saying that he met with Apple CEO Tim Cook, who «was clear that Apple never considered» removing Twitter.
Meanwhile, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has retracted her remarks on whether Musk’s purchase of Twitter warrants a government review.
“I misphrased myself,” he said at the New York Times DealBook summit on Wednesday, referring to a CBS interview earlier this month in which he said there was “no basis” for reviewing the Twitter purchase.
The Treasury Secretary oversees the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, an interagency committee that investigates the national security risks of foreign investment in US companies.
“If there are such risks, it would be appropriate for the Treasury to take a look,” Yellen told The New York Times.
He declined to confirm whether CFIUS is currently investigating the Twitter purchase of Musk.
Saudi billionaire prince Alwaleed bin Talal is, through his investment company, Twitter’s largest shareholder after Musk.