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Twitter Criticized Over EU Commitments Under Code of Practice on Disinformation

Khadija Boufous Khadija Boufous
20th February 2023
Twitter Criticized Over EU Commitments Under Code of Practice on Disinformation
European officials expressed disappointment about Twitter’s report (Getty)

Since Elon Musk completed the $44 billion deal and acquired Twitter in October 2022, Twitter users took to their accounts to criticize Twitter’s misinformation policies and logarithms on several occasions.

Although Musk has been calling for free speech on the platform, he later fired employees who battle misinformation on the social media platform subjecting the company to criticism and accusations.

EU Officials Express Disappointment About Twitter’s Report

Lately, Twitter has delivered a report to the European Union about how the company fights disinformation online. The report was later considered by European officials “lackluster” and “short of information.”

In a press release published on the European commission’s official website, the European officials warned that they expected more from Twitter ahead of the enforcement of new regulations in the region.

Věra Jourová, Vice-President for Values and Transparency, said: “I am disappointed to see that Twitter’s report lags behind others and I expect a more serious commitment to their obligations stemming from the Code.”

“Russia is engaged also in a full-blown disinformation war, and the platforms need to live up to their responsibilities,” Věra Jourová added.

According to the press release, unlike the other signatories submitting their reports addressing all the commitments on time, Elon Musk’s platform has not undergone the same standards. 

The press release mentioned that Twitter’s report was “short of data, with no information on commitments to empower the fact-checking community,” noting that the next set of reports is due in July to provide further information on the Code's implementation and more stable data covering six months.

Earlier, EU Commissioner Thierry Breton spoke to Musk in a video call on Tuesday to assess Twitter’s readiness for Europe’s new rules, known as the Digital Services Act, set to take effect later this year. 

Musk expressed his satisfaction and tweeted: “The goals of transparency, accountability & accuracy of information are aligned with ours.”

The 2022 Code of Practice on Disinformation

Twitter's report was issued along with other social media companies as part of the 2022 Code of Practice on Disinformation, considered as a set of regulation standards that 34 companies agreed to follow. 

The Code’s guidelines were set out following the Commission’s guidance of May 2021 but signed and presented on June 16, 2022.

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According to the commission, the 2022 Code of Practice is the result of the work carried out by the signatories, including major online platforms, emerging and specialized platforms, players in the advertising industry, fact-checkers, research, and civil society organizations. 

By signing the document, the Code’s signatories agreed to take action on several issues, such as combatting disinformation, ensuring political advertising transparency, and empowering users. 

The stakeholders also agreed on enhancing the cooperation with fact-checkers and providing researchers with better access to data. In addition to establishing a framework for further collaboration, the code also comes with a strengthened monitoring framework based on qualitative reporting and service level indicators measuring the effectiveness of its implementation. 

Moreover, following the Code’s guidelines, the signatories will set up a Transparency Center to provide a clear overview to the public of the policies they put in place and will regularly update it with the relevant data.

The Digital Services Act

This step comes following a new European legislation that was approved last year but will take effect later this year. The Digital Services Act aims to help cement Europe’s reputation as the global leader in efforts to rein in the power of social media companies.

EU Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager added: “with today’s agreement, we ensure that platforms are held accountable for the risks their services can pose to society and citizens.”

This Act is considered the EU’s third significant law related to the tech industry. These rules should make tech companies more accountable for content created by users and amplified by their platforms’ algorithms in Europe.

The regulation will also force tech companies to make it easier for users to flag problems, ban online ads aimed at kids, and empower regulators to punish noncompliance with billions in fines to better protect European users from hate speech, disinformation, and other harmful online content.

Following this new regulation’s standards, concerns were raised about free speech and freedom of expression in Europe. However, if this law enforcement shows efficacy in combating online misinformation, many other countries may pursue introducing a similar act.  

Meanwhile, the lack of respect for the European commitments shown by Twitter may lead to weak bonds with European regulators and affect the platform’s existence in Europe and its general revenues.

Misbar’s Sources:

Elon Musk

CBS News

New York Times

European Commission

Elon Musk

Associated Press

Associated Press

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