Twitter Withdraws from EU’s Voluntary Disinformation Code, Faces Mandatory Compliance
The European Union has announced that Twitter has chosen to withdraw from its voluntary code aimed at combatting disinformation. Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, took to Twitter to share the news, cautioning that new legislation will compel compliance. Breton stated, “Obligations remain. You can run but you can’t hide.” As of August 25, Twitter will be legally obligated to combat disinformation within the EU, with preparations for enforcement already underway. Twitter has neither confirmed its stance on the code nor responded to requests for comment.
The EU’s disinformation code, launched in June of the previous year, boasts participation from numerous tech companies, both large and small. Signatories include Meta (owner of Facebook and Instagram), TikTok, Google, Microsoft, and Twitch. The code aims to prevent the exploitation of disinformation and fake news for profit, enhance transparency, and limit the proliferation of bots and fake accounts. Companies endorsing the code can select specific commitments, such as collaborating with fact-checkers or monitoring political advertisements.
Under the leadership of Elon Musk, Twitter’s moderation efforts have reportedly diminished, which critics argue has led to an upsurge in the dissemination of disinformation. While Twitter once had a dedicated team focused on combating coordinated disinformation campaigns, many specialists in this area are said to have resigned or been laid off, according to experts and former employees. Last month, the BBC exposed numerous Russian and Chinese state propaganda accounts thriving on the platform.
Despite these concerns, Mr. Musk, the CEO of Twitter, maintains that there is now “less misinformation rather than more” since assuming control in October of the preceding year. In addition to the voluntary code, the EU has introduced the Digital Services Act (DSA), a law mandating that companies take stronger measures against illegal online content. From August 25 onward, platforms with over 45 million monthly active users in the EU, including Twitter, will be legally bound to adhere to the DSA’s regulations. This will require Twitter to establish a mechanism for users to report illicit content, promptly act upon notifications, and implement measures to combat disinformation.
An official from the European Commission, quoted by AFP news agency, stated, “If (Elon Musk) doesn’t take the code seriously, then it’s better that he quits.”