Twitter disinformation report disappoints EU: ‘Short of data, with no information on commitments’

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Twitter delivered a lackluster report about how it fights disinformation on its platform, European officials said in a press release Thursday, warning that they expect more from the Elon Musk-run platform ahead of the enforcement of sweeping new regulations in the region.

Twitter issued the report, along with other major social media platforms, as part of the 2022 Code of Practice on Disinformation, a set of regulatory standards that 34 companies agreed to follow. The 2022 standard built on an earlier version and followed guidelines set out by the European Commission.

“I am disappointed to see that Twitter report lags behind others and I expect a more serious commitment to their obligations stemming from the Code,” the EU’s Vice President for Values and Transparency V?ra Jourov? said in a statement.

“Russia is engaged also in a full-blown disinformation war and the platforms need to live up to their responsibilities,” Jourov? added.

The EU said in its press release that unlike other signatories of the code, who submitted their reports on time and with a similar reporting template addressing all the commitments, Twitter did not live up to the same standards. The company’s report was “short of data, with no information on commitments to empower the fact-checking community,” the press release said, noting the next set of reports are due in July.

Though the code is a voluntary self-regulatory tool, platforms like Twitter will soon be subject to new rules in Europe imposing new regulations around content moderation. The so-called Digital Services Act will become enforceable as soon as this year for the largest platforms and includes limits on targeted ads, algorithmic transparency requirements and mandates that allo users to challenge content moderation decisions.

The EU’s Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton warned Musk once he purchased Twitter last year that the platform would still have to play by Europe’s rules under the DSA. Last month he spoke with Musk again about readying the platform for the new rules. Musk has said he intends to comply and tweeted that “The goals of transparency, accountability & accuracy of information are aligned with ours.”

But Breton seemed hopeful Musk was committed to getting Twitter up to speed. After speaking with Musk, Breton tweeted in November he welcomed the CEO’s intent to get Twitter ready for the new regulations.

“Huge work ahead still — as Twitter will have to implement transparent user policies, significantly reinforce content moderation and tackle disinformation,” Breton said at the time. “Looking forward to seeing progress in all these areas.”

But in a statement Thursday following Twitter’s report, Breton struck a somewhat different tone, though he did not name Twitter directly.

“It comes as no surprise that the degree of quality vary greatly according to the resources companies have allocated to this project,” Breton said. “It is in the interest of all signatories to abide by their commitment to fully implement the Code of practice against disinformation, in anticipation of the obligations under the Digital Services Act.”

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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