Speculation Rises That Twitter Could Soon Exit the European Union

Elon Musk’s quest to burn Twitter down to the ground continues. Some are speculating that recent moves could see an EU exit.

The breakdown of Twitter is continuing. After killing third party access to its API, Freezenet was forced to end the automated sharing of news on Twitter. This after other news organizations have exited Twitter. With the platform having stability issues and an increasing number of critical security incidences, it’s probably little wonder why so many conclude that Twitter is in the process of sunsetting its dominance in the online marketplace.

A recent move could accelerate this transition. Over the weekend, reports were indicating that Twitter has pulled out of the European voluntary code to fight disinformation. From the BBC:

Twitter has pulled out of the European Union’s voluntary code to fight disinformation, the EU has said.

Thierry Breton, who is the EU’s internal market commissioner, announced the news on Twitter – but warned the firm new laws would force compliance.

“Obligations remain. You can run but you can’t hide,” he said.

Twitter will be legally required to fight disinformation in the EU from 25 August, he said, adding: “Our teams will be ready for enforcement.”

Twitter has not confirmed its stance on the code or responded to a request for comment.

Dozens of tech firms both big and small are signed up to the EU’s disinformation code, including Meta – which owns Facebook and Instagram – as well as TikTok, Google, Microsoft and Twitch.

The code was launched in June last year, and aims to prevent profiteering from disinformation and fake news, as well as increasing transparency and curbing the spread of bots and fake accounts.

There’s a certain degree of irony here. It was this time last year that Musk was trying to pull out of buying Twitter. His defence for pulling out of the deal was partly based on his speculation of bots running rampant on Twitter. Now, Must is refusing to comply with a commitment that, in part, asks platforms to fight against bots promoting disinformation. Ever since Musk took over Twitter, hate speech and disinformation has grown increasingly to be the bread and butter for its promoted content, so it’s probably not a big surprise that Musk is wanting to pull out of a code that fights what makes up a big portion of Twitter these days.

The pullout has led to some speculation that this could be what sees Twitter get kicked out of the European Union. From Deadline:

Elon Musk’s Twitter platform could potentially be banned in Europe if it doesn’t follow the disinformation rules. The threat comes from France’s Digital Minister Jean-Noël Barrot who recently talked about the importance of following guidelines to combat fake news on social media.

“Disinformation is one of the gravest threats weighing on our democracies,” Barrot said during an interview on France Info. “Twitter, if it repeatedly doesn’t follow our rules, will be banned from the EU.”

Barrot’s comments come as Twitter withdrew from a voluntary rulebook that included guidelines for big tech companies that also include Meta, Alphabet and Microsoft. Participating in the latter code was not mandatory but was created to facilitate the obligations that the tech companies would have to follow with the mandatory Digital Services Act that go into effect in August in the European Union.

Should Twitter be shown the door in Europe, that would represent a huge block of users suddenly vanishing from the platform. Indeed, a number of users will probably circumvent such a ban and stay on Twitter via things like TOR and VPNs, but every user on the platform is not likely to jump through such hoops. Either way, that this will invariable result in a loss of users in the end. That would lead to fewer advertising dollars because there are advertisers who would rather advertise to a global audience and not just to parts of the world. Already, Twitter is losing money hand over fist as its “verification” program struggles to even get close to the advertising dollars it lost when Musk sent it’s typical advertisers to the exits. Being banned from Europe would only make matters worse.

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. Twitter has been plagued with problems already since the Musk takeover. Thanks to the recent developments, it looks like the growing number of problems isn’t going to slow down any time soon.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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