Skip to content

Twitter Opts Out of EU Misinformation Code: A Risky Path to Regulatory Conflict

As Twitter opts out of the EU Disinformation Code, it's set on a risky path that could lead to regulatory clashes and significant penalties.

Twitter's Stand Against EU Disinformation Code: A Clash Ahead?

In a high-stakes game of digital poker, Twitter is pushing its chips to the centre of the table. By choosing to step away from the EU’s Code of Practice on Online Disinformation, a section of the Digital Services Act (DSA), Twitter is apparently ready to square off with EU regulators in a potential regulatory showdown.

This voluntary code - a progressive move towards online transparency and responsibility - seeks to regulate misinformation in the vast digital landscape. It casts a wider net on large online platforms to safeguard against spammers, scammers, and the rapid spread of false information.

The EU articulated the gravity of the situation:

“As we recognize the enormous influence of large online platforms on our society and economy, our proposal aims to instill a greater sense of accountability and transparency in how these platforms handle and moderate information. We are proposing supervised risk management obligations for online platforms that serve a wide audience and pose significant societal risks.”

Every online Goliath is expected to align with these new standards, with voluntary commitment aiding in DSA compliance. But Twitter's recent pullback has ruffled feathers in EU's regulatory circles, drawing criticism from EU market commissioner Thierry Breton:

Twitter’s withdrawal may be interpreted as a reluctance to conform to these reinforced responsibilities, risking a possible clash with EU law. This could potentially lead to hefty fines and even suspensions within EU member states should Twitter fail to meet these requirements.

This has remained a point of concern for EU regulators, especially since Elon Musk took the helm of the popular platform. A meeting between Breton and Musk aimed to lay down expectations for Twitter. Back then, Musk assured compliance with all regulations.

However, a compliance report released in February revealed that Twitter had fallen short in meeting several reporting obligations. The report labeled Twitter’s submission as 'data deficient', noting the lack of commitments towards supporting the fact-checking community.

Musk, who believes in the power of the Twitter community to distinguish between fact and fiction, has persistently accused mainstream media of spreading falsehoods. He posits Twitter as an antidote to corporate-propagated misinformation. Yet, his stand might be in direct conflict with the new EU requirements, demanding digital platforms to act swiftly and efficiently against misinformation.

The debate surrounding what constitutes misinformation could be a critical point of disagreement. Twitter may resist laws that give EU regulators the power to decide the truth. However, Twitter could face hefty penalties – as much as 6% of its European revenue – for violating the Code.

Coping with these demands might be a challenge for Twitter, given its extensive staff cuts, which also affected its moderation teams.

The coming months will reveal Twitter's stance. Will it accept potential violations of EU laws? Or will it fight for Musk's free speech doctrine?