Musk’s Twitter moves could set him up to clash with Europe’s ‘red lines’

LONDON – The end of Elon Musk Suspension of several top journalists From Twitter drew condemnation The backlash to the move, not just in the US, but further afield in Europe, highlights what could be a coming clash with the billionaire.

Leaders on the continent criticized the move on Friday, adding to domestic pressure on Twitter’s new owner and signaling that his efforts to remake the social media platform could leave him in conflict with tough new rules in Europe aimed at big tech.

Musk He reinstated suspended journalists It was early Saturday morning after the Twitter poll, but he had already received condemnations from the European Union and the United Nations.

“Media freedom is not a toy,” UN global communications chief Melissa Fleming said in a tweet on Friday, adding that she was “deeply saddened” by the suspension of journalists from the site.

Germany’s foreign ministry tweeted that “press freedom cannot be turned on and off at will,” while French Industry Minister Roland Lescoeur tweeted Friday morning that he would suspend his account in protest until further notice. His account is active, but no tweets. are done first.

‘Red Lines’

Perhaps more telling, however, was the reaction of senior officials from the European Union, a group of 27 countries that has been taking an increasingly strong stance on regulating the online space.

“The EU’s Digital Services Act must respect media freedom and fundamental rights. This is reinforced under our #MediaFreedomAct,” European Commission Vice President Věra Jourová said in a post on Twitter.

“There are red lines, and soon there will be barriers,” he said.

The Digital Services Act will introduce sweeping new rules designed to curb the power of tech companies and promote internet users’ “fundamental online rights”. Coming into force in 2024, it makes sites and search engines more liable for illegal and harmful online content, including hate speech, scams and misinformation.

“Sites should especially ensure that their terms and conditions are clear, understandable and transparent Freedom of media should be respectedA spokeswoman for Jourova told NBC News in an emailed statement.

“They cannot be arbitrary or biased in their decisions,” they added. Failure to comply in the case of the largest online sites and search engines could result in fines of up to 6% of the company’s global revenue, Jourova’s office said.

“Rogue sites that refuse to comply with important obligations, thereby endangering the lives and safety of people, would be a last resort after involving all parties concerned and requesting the court to temporarily suspend their services,” they added.

That vast sum of money ensured that Friday wasn’t the first time Musk had drawn the ire of the European Union over his Twitter management.

Following internal conflicts at the company in November, top EU official Thierry Breton warned Musk that “Twitter must implement transparent user policies, significantly strengthen content moderation and protect free speech, address misinformation, and limit targeted advertising,” his office said in a statement. According to a transcript of a conference call.

Musk also drew criticism from European regulators when he tried to mirror his “hardcore” Twitter rebranding notice firing practices with mass layoffs at its European headquarters in Dublin.

But despite the strong rhetoric, experts warned that the EU could struggle to enforce its laws and hold Musk to account for strong inclusion and freedom of expression, as he warned.

“All you have to do is look at the EU’s approach to Hungary and Poland, where both countries are eroding democracy and liberal values. Any kind of implementation could take years,” said Joseph Downing, senior lecturer in politics and international relations at Aston University’s Europe Centre.

“Elon Musk and Twitter are fast. He can wake up one morning and snap his fingers, and at 4 o’clock, the world has changed,” he added. “The EU can condemn it, they can look at the laws and debate, and it could be months or years.”

Musk accused journalists of sharing private information about his whereabouts, which he described as “basically assassination coordinates.” Many suspended journalists were writing about it Twitter’s latest rule change around accounts tracking private jets And Musk’s reasoning for imposing it included allegations of a stalking incident that he said affected his family.

“The European legal arsenal is insufficient to counter arbitrary acts of censorship,” said Ricardo Gutiérrez, Secretary General of the European Federation of Journalists.

“Although platforms are pervasive in daily life, governance across the scale of their activities is incomplete and inadequate,” he added.

EU officials have also assessed Add more than 100 full-time employees by 2024 Implementation of the Digital Services Act and other new rules on digital competition. Member states should also hire more people to police smaller bases and coordinate with Brussels.

But according to Downing, the law is designed to ensure that social media companies petition to keep certain content down, even if that content originates from news services.

“The Digital Services Act wasn’t prepared for this kind of problem because it wasn’t designed,” Downing said, referring to Thursday’s suspension of tech journalists.

“There was never any suggestion that journalists would be banned from Twitter, because that’s not what Twitter does,” he added.

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