Tesla billionaire and future Twitter owner Elon Musk says he is “very much on the same page” as the European Union over the Digital Services Act, a package of web platform regulations. Musk appeared in a short video together with EU Commissioner Thierry Breton to confirm their support for the DSA, which, among other things, requires large platforms to monitor illegal content and assess the risk of harm posed by their services, including disinformation.
“I think it’s exactly aligned” with the future goals of the Twitter platform, Musk said in a short video posted by Breton. “It’s been a great discussion, and I really think I agree with everything you said, really. I think we have a lot of the same opinion, and I think that anything that my companies can do that is beneficial for Europe, we want to do it.” Musk followed up with a tweeted response to the video “Great meeting! We are very much on the same page,” she said.
The video reinforces previous statements that Twitter’s moderation must “conform to the laws” of a country in which it operates, and Musk’s priorities bear some clear similarities to the DSA. Both are very concerned about transparency, for example: Musk has suggested making Twitter’s recommendation algorithms “open source” while DSA would require large platforms to explain your algorithms to the EU. Similarly, the DSA asks platforms to assess the risk of harm posed by bots and fake accounts, while Musk pledged to “authenticate all humans” on Twitter despite concerns from some users operating anonymously for security reasons. And while not mentioned in this video, the Digital Markets Act (DMA) separately attacks practices like Apple adding a 30 percent fee to App Store purchases, something that Musk has called a “de facto global Internet tax”.
But the EU will also require companies to identify and mitigate potential social risks posed by their platforms, potentially from legal and illegal content. It calls on companies to work with the EU on fighting disinformation and promoting democracy, encouraging the use of “crisis protocols” that could limit the flow of inaccurate information during pandemics, earthquakes or other natural disasters. That could require stricter moderation of user speech in a way that the First Amendment in the United States would not allow the government to mandate. Meanwhile, Musk’s other businesses, like Tesla, are heavily dependent on markets like Germany, so Twitter can’t just ignore these regulations.
Musk has defined “free speech” as speech that conforms to the laws of a given country, regardless of what those laws allow. “If people want less freedom of expression, they will ask the government to pass laws to that effect,” tweeted at the end of April. But that poses challenges on a global platform like Twitter. While the DSA only applies to users in Europe, its policies could be difficult to reconcile with Musk’s commitment to maximal speech in the US, as moderation in one country can affect the content they see. people all over the world. And as Musk’s reference to his many ventures suggests, he has a lot to lose by angering the EU if those goals conflict.