CorruptionLedger commentary in red.
Twitter has pulled out of the European Union’s voluntary code to fight disinformation, the EU has said.
Thierry Breton, who is the EU’s internal market commissioner, announced the news on Twitter – but warned the firm new laws would force compliance. “Obligations remain. You can run but you can’t hide,” he said.
Twitter will be legally required to fight disinformation in the EU from 25 August, he said, adding: “Our teams will be ready for enforcement.” There is no statement in the article about which agencies will decide on the information that will be categorized as true and false.
Twitter has not confirmed its stance on the code or responded to a request for comment. It is unclear what kind of statement is expected or what information can be added to the already existing decision to pull out of the EU’s programme.
Dozens of tech firms both big and small are signed up to the EU’s disinformation code, including Meta – which owns Facebook and Instagram – as well as TikTok, Google, Microsoft and Twitch. Meta is Facebook’s parent company. Facebook is infamous for allowing the posting of misinformation and fraudulent ads, and its own ‘misinformation team’ is not composed of experts across the fields in which they make judgments.
The code was launched in June last year, and aims to prevent profiteering from disinformation and fake news, as well as increasing transparency and curbing the spread of bots and fake accounts. Again, no statement is offered on how decisions are made regarding information that will be categorized as true and false.
Firms that sign the code can decide which pledges to make, such as cooperating with fact-checkers or tracking political advertising.
Under Elon Musk’s ownership, moderation at Twitter has reportedly been greatly reduced – which critics say has allowed an increase in the spread of disinformation. Critics are not cited and no evidence is offered to indicate an increase in misinformation. Musk has, however, claimed to have eliminated a large number of bots or fake accounts on Twitter. Nothing has been published from either side in the way of proof or numbers, according to our research.
The social media giant used to have a dedicated team that worked to combat coordinated disinformation campaigns, but experts and former Twitter employees say the majority of these specialists resigned or were laid off. A number of such experts who were laid off had conflicts of interest in their close ties to government.
Last month, the BBC found hundreds of Russian and Chinese state propaganda accounts were thriving on Twitter. First, where is this evidence? Secondly, given that such accounts are everywhere on social media, is the point here that there are more on Twitter than elsewhere? If so, show your work.
But Twitter boss Mr Musk claims there is now “less misinformation rather than more” since he took over last October.
Alongside the voluntary code, the EU has also brought in a Digital Services Act – a law which obliges firms to do more to tackle illegal online content.
From 25 August, platforms with more than 45 million monthly active users in the EU – which includes Twitter – will have to comply legally with the rules under the DSA.
The law will mean Twitter will have to have a mechanism for users to flag illegal content, act upon notifications “expeditiously” and put in measures to address the spread of disinformation.