Whereas the world continues to surprise what ‘free speech absolutist‘ and gadfly billionaire Elon Musk may imply for the way forward for Twitter, the European Union has chalked up an early PR win within the lengthy recreation of platform regulation — extracting settlement from the Tesla founder that its freshly rebooted method towards content material coverage feels like good shiz.
EU inside market commissioner, Thierry Breton, paid a go to to the would-be Twitter proprietor, Musk, yesterday for a gathering at his gigafactory in Austin, Texas, the place we’re advised regulation of on-line speech was a key dialogue matter, alongside “mutual curiosity” provide chain chat.
Breton was eager to introduce Musk to the newly agreed Digital Companies Act (DSA), which is able to come into power throughout the bloc within the coming years — possible in early 2023 for bigger platforms reminiscent of Twitter — with the purpose of harmonizing content material governance guidelines and dialling up client protections. Breaches of the regulation, in the meantime, can entice fines of as much as 6% of worldwide annual turnover.
Requested whether or not the newly agreed regulation matches along with his deliberate method for Twitter, Musk responded: “I feel it’s precisely aligned with my considering”.
“It’s been an amazing dialogue,” Musk additionally mentioned within the temporary Q&A with Breton. “I agree with every thing you mentioned actually. I feel we’re very a lot of the identical thoughts. And I feel something that my firms can do that might be helpful to Europe, we need to do this. That’s what I’m saying.”
“On social media, they’d a constructive change on the impression of the just lately adopted EU Digital Companies Act on on-line platforms in areas reminiscent of freedom of speech, algorithm transparency, or consumer duty,” a spokesman for Breton’s workplace additionally advised us — pointing to a “brief video” abstract which was promptly posted to Twitter, post-meeting, the place Musk may be heard making the aforementioned remarks.
Setting apart the awkward physique language between Musk and Breton (defensive vs obsequious), it stays to be seen whether or not the previous might need the final (hole) snigger — ought to it prove he’s inadvertently highlighted a significant gap within the bloc’s plan.
In latest weeks, since information of Musk’a $44BN bid to purchase Twitter broke, he’s prompt his rule of thumb for moderating speech on the social media platform will cleave to native legal guidelines that require the elimination of unlawful speech — however go away just about every thing else up.
Which might imply he’ll fortunately open the floodgates to poisonous abuse and senseless conspiracy theories — aka ‘authorized however dangerous speech’…
Europe’s grand plan for modernizing platform guidelines, in the meantime, primarily sidesteps this fuzzier (controversial) space of authorized however dangerous speech in favor of fixing hard-and-fast guidelines to harmonize speedy takedowns of strictly unlawful stuff (e.g. CSAM; copyright infringement; hate speech in sure markets; one other EU regulation that’s on account of begin making use of this yr additionally targets terrorist content material with a one-hour takedown rule).
So it’s maybe no surprise that Musk got here away from the assembly with the EU commissioner professing their approaches align — assuming Breton’s core message was that the foundations give attention to unlawful speech — since affirmation bias is a helluva a drug!
That mentioned, EU lawmakers do have quite a few (softer) mechanisms within the pipe to sort out fuzzier content material issues reminiscent of disinformation — and to set transparency guidelines round political advertisements. So it could be that Musk hasn’t absolutely grokked all of the methods the bloc intends to stress platform suppliers to not unfold different kinds of poisonous and/or dangerous content material.
If he succeeds in shopping for Twitter, one factor is evident: Musk shall be fielding many extra requests for conferences from lawmakers at residence and overseas. And if he chooses to tug out the speech stops, and let poisonous abuse and damaging disinformation rip, he’ll rapidly discover quite a lot of these requests turning into exhausting and quick calls for.