European Union threatens Elon Musk over advocacy for free speech on Twitter

'If [Twitter] does not comply with our law there are sanctions — 6 per cent of the revenue and, if they continue, banned from operating in Europe,' an EU bureaucrat warned.

European Union threatens Elon Musk over advocacy for free speech on Twitter
AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File; Patrick Pleul/Pool via AP
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The European Union is threatening Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter, over his advocacy for free speech and desire to bring First Amendment policies to the platform.

Musk might suggest that the proponents of censorship are having an “extreme antibody reaction” to his push for free speech on Twitter.

In an interview with the Financial Times, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market,  Thierry Breton, declared that Twitter will be forced to comply with Europe’s new digital rules or be subject to fines, and even a possible ban for the failure to do so.

“At least we know what to tell him: ‘Elon, there are rules. You are welcome but these are our rules. It’s not your rules which will apply here,’” the EU bureaucrat stated.

“Anyone who wants to benefit from this market will have to fulfill our rules. The [Twitter] board will have to make sure that if it operates in Europe it will have to fulfill the obligations, including moderation, open algorithms, freedom of speech, transparency in rules, obligations to comply with our own rules for hate speech, revenge porn [and] harassment,” he continued.

“If [Twitter] does not comply with our law there are sanctions — 6 per cent of the revenue and, if they continue, banned from operating in Europe,” he warned.

As Musk himself detailed on Twitter, his plans for free speech on Twitter do not mean that he intends to turn the place into an anarchic free-for-all. Instead, he intends to abide by the United States’ First Amendment, which does not protect any forms of illegal expression, such as threats of violence, child sexual exploitation, or revenge porn.

The EU, which just passed its Digital Services Act, which serves as legislation to remove illegal content from online social media platforms, prohibits certain forms of communication it deems to be “hate speech.”

The organization claims that the DSA will provide the tools to tackle so-called Russian disinformation and propaganda.

“Putin’s war extends to the online world,” said Anna Cavazzini, the Chair of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee of the European Parliament, according to a press statement. “Tackling Russian disinformation and propaganda needs to be an EU priority. The DSA currently being negotiated includes tools to fight disinformation by tackling the root problem - the harmful business models that big platforms use, which favour hate over facts. What is the right balance between fighting disinformation and protecting freedom of speech? Is the DSA equipped with the right tools to fight Putin’s online war? We are looking forward to discussing this.”

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