As long as the world goes on be surprised which ‘free speech absolutist‘ and billionaire gadfly Elon Musk could mean for the future of Twitter, the European Union has chalked up an early PR win in the platform’s long regulation game – having agreed from the Tesla founder that his recently rebooted approach to content politics sounds like good shit.
EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton paid a visit to would-be Twitter owner Musk yesterday for a meeting at his gigafactory in Austin, Texas, where we were told the regulation of online speech was a key topic of discussion, along with “mutual interest” supply chain chat.
Breton really wanted to introduce Musk to the newly agreed Digital Services Act (DSA), which will come into effect for the entire block in the coming years – likely in early 2023 for larger platforms such as Twitter – to harmonize content management rules and strengthen consumer protection. At the same time, violations of the rules can result in fines of up to 6% of the global annual turnover.
Asked if the newly agreed regulation is in line with his planned approach to Twitter, Musk replied: “I think it’s completely in line with my thinking.”
“It was a great discussion,” Musk also said in a brief Q&A with Breton. “I agree with everything you have actually said. I think we’re on the same page in many ways. And I think that everything that my companies can do will be useful for Europe, we want to do it. That’s what I’m saying.”
“There has been a constructive exchange on social media about the impact of the recently passed EU Digital Services Act on online platforms in areas such as freedom of speech, transparency of algorithms or user accountability,” a representative from Breton’s office also told us, pointing to “short videoA summary that was immediately posted to Twitter after the meeting, where Musk can be heard making the above remarks.
Leaving aside the awkward body language between Musk and Breton (protective or obsequious), it remains to be seen whether the former will be able to laugh last (deaf) – if it turns out that he inadvertently pointed to a large hole in the block plan.
In recent weeks, after the Musk news $44 billion Twitter bid failshe suggested that his rule of thumb for moderating speech on the social media platform would adhere to local laws requiring the removal of illegal speech, but leaves largely everything else up.
This may mean that he will gladly open the floodgates for venomous insults and nonsensical conspiracy theories – i.e. “legitimate but harmful speech”…
Europe’s grandiose plan to modernize platform rulesmeanwhile, essentially bypasses this fuzzy (controversial) area of legal but harmful speech in favor of establishing rigid rules to harmonize the rapid removal of highly illegal material (e.g. CSAM; copyright infringement; hate speech in certain markets; another EU regulation). to be applied this year also aim terrorist content with a one-hour takedown rule).
So it’s perhaps unsurprising that Musk walked out of a meeting with the EU commissioner saying their approaches were the same – if Breton said the rules were aimed at fighting illegal speech. Confirmation bias is a hell of a drug!
However, EU legislators have a number of (softer) mechanisms to deal with more fuzzy content issues such as misinformation – and install political advertising transparency rules. So it could be that Musk has not fully explored all the ways the bloc intends to put pressure on platform providers not to distribute other types of toxic and/or harmful content.
If he manages to buy Twitter, one thing is clear: Musk will receive many more meeting requests from lawmakers at home and abroad. And if he chooses to pull out the speech stops and let venomous insults and devastating misinformation burst, he will quickly find a lot these requests turning into tough and fast demands.
Credit: techcrunch.com /