EU Commissioner Breton threatens Twitter boss Musk with license withdrawal

Thierry Breton

The EU Commissioner is Musk’s worst adversary.

(Photo: AP)

Brussels The warning was clear: EU Commissioner Thierry Breton has Twitter-Boss Elon Musk pointed out in a video call that Internet companies can lose their operating license for Europe if they systematically violate the stricter European laws on online safety.

Breton said in a statement Wednesday night: “Twitter must implement transparent user policies, significantly increase content moderation and protect freedom of expression, take firm action against disinformation and limit targeted advertising.” This requires sufficient “human resources” – a reference to Musk’s decision to the half Twitter-lay off staff.

The EU’s Digital Services Act, or DSA for short, which recently came into force, imposes comprehensive requirements on operators of online platforms. He should cause that Companies use their power carefully.

Companies violating the Digital Services Act face fines of up to six percent of global sales. In the event of a recurrence, there could even be a threat of “a ban on activities on the EU internal market”, as the Commission emphasizes.

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The law does not set any criteria as to what content is illegal. This decision remains with the member states of the EU. Instead, the Digital Services Act requires platforms to analyze and respond to risks they pose.

EU Commission and Musk in a power struggle

Companies must therefore adapt their algorithms in such a way that political debates and elections are not manipulated by these systems. Because the algorithms decide what the users get to see and how often. In this way, the EU wants to reduce the democracy-threatening effect of disinformation and propaganda in the Internet fight.

Elon Musk

The Tesla and Twitter boss supports the Republicans in the upcoming presidential election.

(Photo: dpa)

The EU commissioner was pleased that Musk had assured him that he had “read the Digital Services Act carefully” and considered it “a sensible approach”. “But we should also be aware that there is still a lot of work ahead of us,” said Breton.

A showdown is looming between one of the most powerful regulators and one of the richest men in the world. After the Twitter takeover, Musk presented himself as a fighter for freedom of expression – he described himself as an “absolutist of free speech”.

This self-description contradicts the approach of the Digital Services Act, which makes online networks responsible for the content on their platforms. Critics accuse Musk of shutting down the short message service within a few weeks to have brought down chaos.

>> Read here: New Twitter subscription launch expected for Friday – republican side with Musk in the dispute with Apple

Many key managers have been fired or resigned. It is therefore questionable whether Twitter would be able to meet the complex requirements of the EU with its current staffing. The employees of the Brussels Twitter office have left the company.

Also in the United States threatens Twitter trouble. Calls for stricter regulation are also growing louder in Washington. “Congress must end the era of Big Tech’s failed self-regulation and enact legislation that prioritizes user safety over billionaire whims,” ​​the statement said over the weekend Democratic US Senator Ed Markey.

In the evening, Twitter emphasized in a blog entry that the company guidelines had not changed, but that they should be enforced differently in the future. The principle applies: “Freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach.” This means, for example, that hateful posts should be displayed to fewer users.

More: A commissioner from Brussels is Elon Musk’s worst opponent

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