Twitter’s efforts to tackle disinformation have fallen behind other major platforms in the last six months, the European Commission said on Thursday, chastising the platform for not taking its responsibilities seriously enough as worries mount over the firm’s ability to moderate content under the leadership of billionaire Elon Musk.
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Twitter failed to provide the European Union with a complete report on how it has tackled disinformation in the last six months, according to a statement from the bloc’s executive branch.
The Commission said Twitter’s report, which was supposed to outline the platform’s efforts to implement the EU’s new anti-disinformation charter, was incomplete, lacked data and didn’t give any information on its plans to work with fact checkers.
Out of dozens of tech companies including Alphabet’s Google, Meta, Microsoft, TikTok and Twitch asked to submit a progress update, Twitter was the only one to provide an incomplete report, the EU said.
European Commission Vice President for Values Věra Jourová, who spearheads the disinformation code, said she was “disappointed to see that Twitter’s report lags behind others” and expects a “more serious commitment” to tackling disinformation from the company.
Twitter has not yet responded to our request. SME’Request for comments on the report
Compliance with the EU’s disinformation code is voluntary but eases some of the requirements under the bloc’s tough Digital Services Act, which regulators will begin enforcing in September and could fine companies 6% of annual global turnover for failing to properly moderate content. Twitter signed up for the scheme shortly before Musk became CEO. A lot has happened since then. His sweeping headcount reductions, stated commitments to absolute free speech and drastic policy changes—including reinstating swaths of banned users like former President Donald Trump—have both irked and worried regulators over the platform’s ability or willingness to tackle major issues. This is just the latest step in a string of actions to anger EU regulators who repeatedly warned Musk about how Twitter needs to do more to safeguard its users. The complete loss of the platform’s office in Brussels, the heart of EU politics, likely soured relations further.
Musk’s Twitter is expected to end free access to its API on Thursday, a feature that is vital for researchers examining the platform and monitoring topics like political polarization and misinformation. The EU’s top diplomat warned it could hamper efforts to combat disinformation at a time when more effort is needed, particularly with Russia’s spreading of propaganda over Ukraine. Jourová echoed concerns over Kremlin propaganda on Thursday and said Russia is engaged in a “full-blown disinformation war and the platforms need to live up to their responsibilities.”
Thierry Breton, the EU’s Internal Market Commissioner, said the difference in quality among reports from different companies should come as “no surprise.” Quality has varied “greatly according to the resources companies have allocated to this project,” he added, without referencing Twitter directly.
$191.4 billion. That’s the estimated net worth of Elon Musk, according to SME’ real-time tracker. He’s the second-richest person in the world after Bernard Arnault, the French luxury goods magnate.
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According to the code, companies agree to file updated reports once every six months. Twitter will be required to submit another report, along with other signatories in July.