Elon Musk, the newest Twitter owner, has been forewarned by the executive vice president of the European Commission (EU): ‘We are watching you.’
When Musk became CEO a week ago, he committed to users to take action against bots. Additionally, he mentioned relaxing a few restrictions on posts, privacy, and account ownership. Many users gained confidence in resisting the current Twitter policies due to this. However, authorities in Europe are growing concerned that Musk’s relationship with Twitter might not work out.
“There is a European rulebook, and you should live by it. Otherwise, we have the penalties. We have the fines. We have all the assessments and all the decisions that will come to haunt you,” said Margrethe Vestager, the executive vice president of the EU.
“They will have to make a systemic assessment of their services, whether they can be hijacked for undermining democracy or other harmful practices, or is the service itself harmful to people no matter their terms of service?” added Vestager.
The EU and the Digital Services Act
The Digital Services Act, a recent law, could be used by the EU to censor posts on social media. According to the law, tech companies must remove any content that violates local information or media laws. Companies could face fines of up to 6% of their yearly revenue if they are guilty of breaking the law. For instance, Twitter made $5 billion in revenue in 2021, so breaking the law could result in a fine of about $300 million for the company.
“Of course we are. We have the responsibility to enforce this legislation. This is what we have promised. Voters, consumers and users have had promises made,” answered the EU vice president when asked if the EU probed Twitter.
Similarly, shortly after Musk purchased Twitter, the EU’s industry commissioner, Thierry Breton, promptly let Musk know that he closely monitored Twitter’s operations. Authorities believe this is a wise course of action given that Musk’s plans for the social media company are still unknown. The business tycoon, however, made it clear that he disagreed with Twitter’s current guidelines regarding bots and content.
Twitter with Musk as CEO
Musk stated after purchasing Twitter:
“I wanted to reach out personally to share my motivation in acquiring Twitter. There has been much speculation about why I bought Twitter and what I think about advertising. Unfortunately, most of it has been wrong.”
“The reason I acquired Twitter is that it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner without resorting to violence. There is currently great danger that social media will splinter into far right-wing and far left-wing echo chambers that generate more hat and divide our society.”
“In the relentless pursuit of clicks, much of traditional media has fueled and catered to those polarized extremes, as they believe that is what brings in the money, but, in doing so, the opportunity for dialogue is lost.”
“That is why I bought Twitter. I didn’t do it because it would be easy. And I didn’t do it to make more money. I did it to try to help humanity, whom I love. And I do so with humility, recognizing that failure in pursuing this goal, despite our best efforts, is a very real responsibility.”