European sources have disclosed that Twitter is planning to pull out from the European Union’s (EU) code of practice on disinformation, a voluntary agreement that unites major social platforms. The decision by Twitter, which is owned by US billionaire Elon Musk, has been communicated to the European Commission, although formal notification to Brussels is still pending.
The EU’s code of practice on disinformation was established in 2018 and has garnered nearly three dozen signatories, including industry giants like Meta, Google, Twitter, Microsoft, and TikTok. It encompasses not only major platforms but also advertisers, fact-checkers, and non-governmental organizations. The code, drafted by the industry players themselves, includes over three dozen commitments, such as enhanced collaboration with fact-checkers and a commitment not to promote actors spreading disinformation.
However, since Elon Musk acquired Twitter seven months ago, there has been a noticeable relaxation in content moderation, resulting in an amplification of voices known for spreading disinformation on the platform. According to sources, Twitter has indicated a preference for relying on its users rather than fact-checkers. Reports produced by Twitter under the code were deemed highly inadequate.
An official from the European Commission expressed concern, stating, “If Elon Musk doesn’t take the code seriously, then he should quit.” While adherence to the code remains voluntary, the official emphasized that platforms cannot evade the consequences of the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA), set to take effect in November. The DSA requires platforms to actively mitigate disinformation risks and imposes penalties of up to 6% of global revenues for non-compliance.
Vera Jourova, the vice president of the European Commission, voiced increasing discomfort with Twitter last month due to the surge in Russian disinformation on the platform. She also raised concerns about Twitter’s inadequate staff dedicated to combating disinformation, following a wave of layoffs after Elon Musk’s arrival.
In response to inquiries, Twitter’s press service sent an automated reply featuring a dog excrement emoji, raising further eyebrows and fueling criticism of the platform’s commitment to tackling disinformation.