UK and EU give stern warning to Elon Musk after Twitter takeover

UK and EU give stern warning to Elon Musk after Twitter takeover

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The E.U. and the U.K. have already sent a warning to Elon Musk regarding his Twitter Inc. acquisition, saying if he breaks the rules there’s a chance the platform will be banned.

Following his $43 billion purchase of the social media company, Musk (pictured) mentioned free speech being a matter of great importance for him, stating that it is the “bedrock of a functioning democracy,” while also saying he wants to “enhance” the product to unlock what he sees as “tremendous potential.” Nonetheless, there are some who fear Musk may go too light on moderation.

Britain’s Online Safety Bill may run into Musk’s new Twitter at some point, with its strict rules on illegal posts and what it vaguely calls “legal but harmful” posts. If social media companies do not comply with this bill, they will face large fines or even a total ban.

“Twitter and all social media platforms must protect their users from harm on their sites,” a U.K. government spokesperson said today. “We are introducing new online safety laws to safeguard children, prevent abusive behavior and protect free speech. All tech firms with users in the U.K. will need to comply with the new laws or face hefty fines and having their sites blocked.”

Thierry Breton, the EU’s commissioner for the internal market, also spoke today in relation to the acquisition. “Be it cars or social media, any company operating in Europe needs to comply with our rules – regardless of their shareholding,” he said. “Mr. Musk knows this well. He is familiar with European rules on automotive and will quickly adapt to the Digital Services Act.”

In an interview with the Financial Times, Breton felt he needed to point out to Musk that “there are rules.” He said he welcomed Musk’s Twitter in the E.U. but only provided that the site adheres to the E.U.’s stringent rules. The E.U.’s new laws against misinformation and illegal content on social media are expected to come into force in 2024.

“If [Twitter] does not comply with our law, there are sanctions — 6% of the revenue and, if they continue, banned from operating in Europe,” Breton said of the new rules.

How this will sit with the new Twitter will be interesting seeing as how after Musk bought Twitter, he called himself a “free speech absolutist.” No sooner than these veiled threats were made public, Musk took to Twitter and called the comments an “antibody reaction” from people who fear free speech.

“By ‘free speech,’ I simply mean that which matches the law,” he later added. “I am against censorship that goes far beyond the law. If people want less free speech, they will ask government to pass laws to that effect. Therefore, going beyond the law is contrary to the will of the people.”

Photo: Just Click’s With A Camera/Flickr

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