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The European Union has warned Elon Musk it will block or fine Twitter if it doesn't follow its content moderation laws due to come into effect in 2023 .
Thierry Breton, the EU commissioner in charge of implementing EU digital rules, issued the warning during a video call with Musk on Wednesday. The checklist of rules includes aggressive removal of misinformation, getting rid of Musk's “arbitrary” approach to recovering banned users, and more.
Musk was reportedly ordered to set out clear criteria by which users could be banned from Twitter. Breton also urged Musk to enforce strict rules on ads, such as banning targeting children or using sensitive information to target users with ads, such as religious and political beliefs.
The EU also wants Twitter to agree to an audit by summer 2023 and hand over information including the number of active users and suspended accounts.
If Twitter does not follow these rules, it risks violating the new EU Digital Services Act, which will come into force in 2023. Among other things, this law sets a global standard for the moderation of content related to major technologies on public platforms. , specifically for user-generated content.
Senior EU officials are also concerned that Twitter may not have enough remaining employees to comply with the rules after Musk fired thousands of employees.
The company could face a pan-European ban or regular fines of up to 6% of its global revenue. According to the Financial Times, Musk repeatedly said during the call that the Digital Services Act is “very sensible” and believes it should be enforced globally.
The EU is not the only organization concerned about the turmoil on Twitter. Many companies, including Apple, have suspended or stopped social media advertising due to content moderation issues.
While Apple hasn't said anything publicly, Musk has said the company is threatening to remove the Twitter app from the App Store until Musk establishes clear rules about content on the platform. Apple has strict content moderation rules, just like in the EU, from when Steve Jobs ran the company.
In addition to being covered by Section 230 of the U.S. Communications Decency Act, a platform must have effective and bona fide moderation of illegal content. Twitter is believed to have fired most of its moderation teams.
In most countries, there are no similar means of protection against the consequences of user behavior — or even protection against the spread of lies by users — for services like Twitter.