European politician Věra Jourová has warned Elon Musk of the World Economic Forum in Davos that Twitter will face “sanctions” if it does not shut down certain forms of expression.
Jourová, the European Commission’s vice-president for values and transparency, told Euronews Next that Twitter could face penalties for allowing free speech in violation of European Union regulations. “The days of the Wild West are over,” she said.
“We will have the Digital Services Act [DSA]. We will have the code of practice as part of this legislation,” Jourová said. “So after Mr. Musk took over Twitter with his ‘free speech absolutism’, we are also the protectors of free speech. But at the same time, we cannot accept, for example, illegal content online, etc. So our message was clear: we have rules to respect, otherwise there will be sanctions.”
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New European legislation could condemn tech companies to giving free rein to freedom of expression.
“A series of new legislation, including the DSA and the Digital Markets Act (DMA), was approved by the European Parliament in October 2022 and is expected to come into force later this year,” Euronews reported. “Under the new regulatory framework, which aims to protect users’ rights online and remove illegal content or misinformation, platforms could expect a fine of up to 6% of their annual revenue if they are breaking the rules by EU regulators.”
Jourová also recounted that in previous years, European politicians and big tech companies had struck “agreements in principle” and other ways to negotiate outside of legislation.
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We had ‘gentlemen’s agreements’, like the Code of Conduct Against Hate Speech, which was very important in 2016 when we saw an extreme rise in online hate aimed at concrete people or groups of citizens,” he said. she said, according to Euronews. “So I always like to combine decent communication and discussion, and test how far they can go within a kind of social responsibility.”
Jourová had already made headlines on Tuesday when she suggested that America would soon have its own “hate speech” laws.
“What qualifies as hate speech, like illegal hate speech, which you will soon have in the United States as well,” she told another World Economic Forum panelist, Rep. Seth Moulton, D- Mass. “I think we have a good reason why we have this in criminal law, we need platforms to just work with language and identify such cases.”
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Musk’s leadership on Twitter has been a notable departure from restrictive discourse trends both on Twitter itself and on Big Tech in general. In late December, Musk proclaimed, “Twitter’s new policy is to follow science, which necessarily includes reasoned questioning of science.”