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Twitter Withdraws From European Union’s Code of Practice on Disinformation

Twitter Withdraws From European Union’s Code of Practice on Disinformation

Micro-blogging platform Twitter has withdrawn from the voluntary European Union’s code of Practice on Disinformation.

This was disclosed by the European commissioner for the internal market Thierry Breton via a tweet, stating that the social media platform can’t hide from its obligations, despite its exit from the EU code of practice.

He wrote,

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“Twitter leaves EU voluntary Code of Practice against disinformation. But obligations remain. You can run but you can’t hide. Beyond voluntary commitments, fighting disinformation will be a legal obligation #DSA as of August 25. Our teams will be ready for enforcement”.

The pan-EU law, which entered into force in November last year, mandated several social media platforms, Twitter inclusive, to assess and mitigate systemic risks to civic discourse and electoral processes such as disinformation.

This saw Google, TikTok, Microsoft and Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta among the top social media platforms that signed up to the EU code, which required them to measure their work on combating disinformation and issue regular reports on their progress.

The EU’s idea is to use mandatory algorithmic transparency requirements to drive accountability, which implies that regulated platforms won’t be able to turn a blind eye to Al-amplified harms as the law also requires they put in place reasonable, proportionate, and effective mitigation measures for identified risks.

Their reporting and mitigation plans will be subject to independent audit and oversight by the European Commission with the support of a newly opened European Center for Algorithmic Transparency while penalties for non-compliance can scale up to 6% of global annual turnover.

In a request for comment emailed to Twitter’s press office, the commission was reported to receive a despicable reply where Twitter used the poop emoji as a response.

Reports reveal that earlier this year, Twitter was the only major tech platform that didn’t send a report to the European Union under the code, which the company had agreed to follow before it was taken over by Elon Musk last year October. Its report was short of data and didn’t include commitments from the social media company that it would empower fact-checkers, the EU’s executive arm disclosed in February.

Meanwhile, previous management at Twitter had signed the platform up to the voluntary EU Code on Disinformation back in 2018, but Twitter’s current owner, Elon Musk, looks intent on picking a fight with the EU over speech moderation.

Experts reveal that this is an expensive fight for Musk to pick as breaches of the commission law can attract penalties of up to 6% of global annual turnover. The Commission has also warned that serious, repeated non-compliance could lead it to block access to a service which dangles the prospect of Twitter losing access to a region with some 440 million consumers.

The original EU Disinformation Code had committed Twitter to take steps to combat the spread of false information on its service by targeting associated ad revenue, tacking bots and fake accounts, and providing consumers with tools to report disinformation and empowering researchers to study.

But Musk’s antics of promotional encouragement for conspiracy put him on a direct collision course with regulators in the EU who have set their stall against blatant anti-democratic manipulation. Musk’s massive job cuts at Twitter, including the exodus of the company’s entire Brussels office raised concerns about whether it will be able to make the necessary changes to comply with the EU’s rules.

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