The forthcoming struggle for freedom of expression – POLITICO

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Elon Musk wants to make Twitter a bastion of freedom of expression. Europe is not so sure about that.

According to the board of Twitter I Agree to Accept Musk’s bid to buy the social media platform for $44 billion had the Tesla CEO and world’s richest man saying Twitter was a “digital town square.” He promised to open the company’s algorithms to outside scrutiny and remove automated bots from people’s feeds.

But Musk’s insistence that “freedom of expression is the bedrock of a functioning democracy” is likely to set him against a barrage of new content rules across the European Union aimed at curbing the worst abuses on social media. These standards will force Twitter — and its larger competitors Google’s YouTube and Meta’s Facebook — to place limits on what people can post on social media in the name of protecting others online. Companies that don’t comply could face massive fines in the billions.

“Let’s remember them Digital Services Act – and with it the obligation to spread misinformation, online hate, etc. posted on Twitter regarding Musk’s takeover of the social media network and Europe’s newly adopted rules for online content, agreed in the early hours of Saturday.

Much is still unknown about Musk’s plans for Twitter. The company is due to announce its quarterly results on Thursday, and despite the platform’s widespread use by politicians, journalists and social media influencers, its roughly 220 million daily users worldwide are just a fraction of the 1.6 billion people who use Facebook every day.

Still, Musk is focused on free speech — and his repeated battles on Twitter with those he disagrees with – goes against Europe’s ongoing drive to set limits on what can be said online and could force the billionaire to choose between his own political stance and the rules adopted within the 27- Country blocks and possibly beyond apply. A spokeswoman for Twitter declined to comment.

Under the new European rules for online content, Twitter and other social media companies must remove illegal content such as hate speech and threats of violence, and conduct risk assessments and audits to pinpoint potential problem areas. This includes tracking political statements and disinformation, which is often reinforced or created by politicians based on analysis from the Reuters Institute at Oxford University. Failure to comply could result in fines of up to 6 percent of a company’s global revenue, or potentially billions of dollars.

Other intra-European regulations, most notably the German NetzDG standards, which oblige companies to remove hate speech within 24 hours or face fines of up to 50 million euros, already apply to Twitter. The UK is also moving forward with its own separate proposals known as the Online Safety Lawwhich contains provisions for social media companies to take action against content that is harmful under UK law but not necessarily illegal.

And while the US is unlikely to push new rules for online content – and Musk may soon have the power to reinstate former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account – Washington and Brussels are likely to introduce new transparency requirements for social media content. Businesses are making demands if they do business in the EU and US officials are meeting in Paris next month, mainly with a view to curbing foreign disinformation campaigns from the likes of Russia.

For now, Musk has played up his eagerness to unleash Twitter’s “enormous potential” without divulging other details its hoping to add an edit button to the social media platform. But by doubling down on his mantra of free speech, the world’s richest man is about to go head-to-head with Europe and its renewed push to monitor what people say online.

“Be it cars or social media, every company that operates in Europe has to abide by our rules – regardless of its stake. Mr. Musk knows that perfectly well,” said EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton. said on Twitter. “He is familiar with the European regulations for the automotive industry and will quickly adapt to the digital services law.”


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