Monday, September 25, 2023
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Twitter drops EU code of good practice against disinformation

One of Elon Musk’s promises, when he arrived at Twitter, was that the social network was going to become the most accurate source of information in the world . Of course, it sounded as good as many of his other promises, such as that Tesla autonomous driving would reach level 5 by the end of 2021 (remember that, in the middle of 2023, it is still at level 2, and with not a few problems), or when he claimed that his Hyperloop was the future of public transportation (it has later been shown to be just smoke, and that he said it to prevent the construction of a rail system in California that could have affected Tesla sales).

Those of us who already regard Musk as a source of false information were under no illusions when he claimed that the reliability of Twitter information was going to be elevated to the sacrosanct altars of pure truth. And that he had a plan to put an end to a key element of the current disinformation techniques in social networks in general, but particularly in Twitter: bots. Thus, with his brand new plan under his arm, he decided to end the free API and make it so that everyone, for only eight euros a month, could buy the verified badge of the social network. A seamless plan…

However, we can understand that his plans were, I don’t know, let’s say interrupted when he had to take on other top-priority tasks, such as changing the sign at his San Francisco headquarters, auctioning off furniture and decorations for said office (while stopped paying rent for it ), or confirm their commitment to freedom of expression by expelling journalists from Twitter. Of course, he was so busy with those that he could not allocate resources to combat hate messages on the social network , which as we all know is something much less important than those other things that he does.

The European Union was not unwise when, even before the purchase operation was completed, it already warned Elon Musk about what to expect from Twitter in this new journey. And when he was able to verify that his forecasts were correct, he sent a warning message in early March . And what has been Twitter’s response to the position of the European Union? Withdraw from the Code of Good Practices on Disinformation , subscribed to by the social network, in its June 2022 update, along with 33 other companies, as confirmed by the European Commissioner Thierry Breton… yes, through a message on his account Twitter.

The curator’s message is quite clear and forceful :

« Twitter abandons the EU voluntary Code of Practice against disinformation.

But the obligations remain. You can run, but you can’t hide.

Beyond voluntary commitments, fighting misinformation will be a legal obligation under the #DSA starting August 25.

Our teams will be prepared to enforce the law. »

It is true, and Breton mentions it at the beginning of his tweet, that adherence to it is voluntary , but just after that point, the commissioner recalls that the obligations established by the EU legal framework are mandatory for any company that wants to operate in the common space, and that therefore, whether or not there is adherence to the Code of Good Practices, the community administrations will respond to any non-compliance.

The problem is that, at least for the moment, it does not give the impression that Twitter is preparing to take the necessary measures to comply with these regulations, and non-compliance with them could translate into multi-million dollar sanctions or, if necessary, even in the prohibition for the social network to operate in the European Union. And unlike the case of OpenAI versus the European regulatory framework , with Sam Altman touring Europe in search of collaboration and consensus, it is hard to imagine Musk with a similar attitude. The only hope in this regard is that the billionaire steps aside and that the new CEO, Linda Yaccarino , is able to reverse the situation, normalize relations with the EU and ensure the persistence of Twitter in the European Union.


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