EU Threatens to Ban Twitter Over Elon Musk’s Free Speech Plans

Twitter could be banned from the EU if Elon Musk continues with his free speech reforms, a senior official within the bloc has reportedly said.

Thierry Breton, the European Union’s Internal Market Commissioner, has reportedly ordered Elon Musk to abandon some of his free speech plans for Twitter or risk seeing the platform banned from operating within the EU.

It comes as Musk continues pushing the platform in a direction more accepting of freedom of speech, unbanning the likes of former President Donald Trump and reversing Twitter’s hardline policing of COVID-related content.

However, in what appears to be partly an attempt at appeasing global elites, Musk has repeatedly said that he has no intention of allowing the platform to be completely free, promising leaders that he will limit the reach of content governments deem offensive.

According to a report by the Financial Times on Wednesday however, it appears that such a promise is not enough for Breton, with the commissioner said to have threatened Musk during a meeting that the EU could see the platform banned from all of its member states if he does not bow to every single one of the bloc’s demands.

While the EU official later wrote on Twitter that he welcomed the CEO’s “intent to get Twitter 2.0 ready” to implement EU regulations, the bigwig then redirected users towards platform rival Mastodon to see the exact demands he was making of the social media giant, which included censoring content, working with so-called “fact-checkers” and the demonetisation of the spread of “disinformation”.

Interestingly, Breton made no reference to ensuring the online security of citizens using Twitter, an oversight that becomes more questionable when considering that he directed his own followers towards a platform that — according to Forbes — has “numerous vulnerabilities and other security issues”.

While extreme, it appears that Breton’s threat that Twitter could be banned from the EU if it does not comply may be more bark than bite, with POLITICO reporting that the mechanisms to actually see the platform axed from the bloc will likely not be in place until 2024.

What’s more, while agreements are currently in place between various tech giants and the European Union on the regulation of disinformation and hate, as of now, these agreements are entirely voluntary in nature, with Twitter being under no obligation to follow any guidelines set out.

Unfortunately, this will likely not stop Elon Musk from bowing to Breton, with the multi-billionaire having at this point repeatedly said he would acquiesce to the Frenchman’s demands in regard to censorship on the platform.

Things do not look likely to be different this time around, with Musk not only reportedly confirming that he was willing to follow EU law when it comes to censorship, but also saying that he thought the rules were “very sensible”, and that the bloc’s forthcoming law on social media regulation ought to be enforced worldwide.

Follow Peter Caddle on Twitter: @Peter_Caddle
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