Tensions are rising between the European Union and Elon Musk’s Twitter as France’s digital minister Jean-Noël Barrot threatened to block access to the site in Europe if it doesn’t adhere to the EU’s incoming Digital Services Act, which enforces new rules on social media and will go into effect this August.
“Disinformation is one of the gravest threats weighing on our democracies,” said Barrot on French radio network France Info. “Twitter, if it repeatedly doesn’t follow our rules, will be banned from the EU,” the French minister added.
Barrot’s threat comes two days after EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton announced that Twitter has withdrawn from the EU’s voluntary code to fight disinformation online, which other Silicon Valley companies like Meta — parent of Facebook and Instagram — Google and Microsoft have pledged to follow. Twitter has not confirmed that it is withdrawing from the code and did not respond to requests for comment.
While Elon Musk has claimed in interviews that there is less misinformation on Twitter since he purchased the site for $44 billion in October, former employees claim that a significant portion of the site’s content moderation team were part of the mass layoffs that have taken place following Musk’s arrival.
In the tweet announcing Twitter’s withdrawal from the voluntary code, Breton insisted that all social media sites will be legally obligated to take steps to combat disinformation to comply with the Digital Services Act, which goes into effect Aug. 25. Sites found in violation of the Digital Services Act face fines of up to 6% of the site’s annual revenue.
“Obligations remain. You can run but you can’t hide,” Breton wrote. “Our teams are ready for enforcement.”