December 9, 2022

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Elon Musk sacking Twitter’s entire Brussels office puts him on collision course with EU laws

2 min read

Elon Musk’s plans to turn Twitter Inc. into a free speech haven could run into its biggest political obstacles in the European Union, where he has to contend with its new Digital Services Act, which forces companies to take down illegal content.

Musk said he’ll follow national laws — and specifically reassured concerned EU officials that he’ll follow the DSA — but this will be difficult in practice with so few staff left to moderate content. It won’t be easier in the EU’s lawmaking capital of Brussels, where Twitter’s office is now lifeless.

EU leaders know Musk himself was a controversial speaker on Twitter — he was taken to court for defamation after he called a British caver a “pedo guy” (Musk won), the US SEC sued him for tweets about taking Tesla Inc. private (Musk settled), he tweeted a Nazi meme (then deleted it), and posted misinformation about an attack on US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband (also deleted.)

While most if not all of these wouldn’t have breached the DSA, it’s certainly made lawmakers attentive to the possibility that they were signs of what’s to come.

What new rules must Twitter follow in Europe?

One rule makes it a requirement for platforms like Twitter to remove content that’s illegal in any of the EU bloc’s member states. For instance, content promoting Nazism would have to be taken down in Germany, where such speech is illegal. But it wouldn’t have to be taken down across the border in Denmark, where it isn’t. Another rule is that platforms like Twitter must show the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, that it’s doing an appropriate amount of work to decrease the spread of content that breaks no law, but can be seen as harmful. This would include disinformation. Companies will have to show how they’re tackling such posts this summer. If the EU concludes not enough is being put in place, this second rule gives them the power to demand changes to…


2022-11-24 13:00:00

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