24 hours. This is the deadline that the European Commission gives to Meta (owner of Instagram, Facebook, or WhatsApp, among others) and social networks and that are incompatible with the Digital Services Act (DSA) that recently came into force in the EU with the objective that “what is illegal offline is also illegal online.” Although with nuances between the two, the Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, has issued a warning to the owners of these platforms, Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, respectively, to comply with the regulations if they do not want to expose themselves to sanctions.
“Following Hamas’ terrorist attacks against Israel, we have indications that its platform is being used to spread illegal content and disinformation in the EU,” Breton said in the first letter, sent to Musk on Tuesday afternoon, in which he pointed out the circulation of false images, of other conflicts, or even manipulated ones originating from “video games”. Breton urged the magnate to “implement mitigation measures to address risks to public safety” and gave him 24 hours to inform his department of the measures he was taking to prevent this situation. He also invited you to contact the corresponding authorities and Europol.
“Our policy is that everything is open source and transparent, an approach that I know the EU supports,” responded Musk, who also calls on the European Commission to list the violations referred to in the letter so that the public can see them, reports the EFE Agency.
Musk is in the spotlight in Brussels after having withdrawn from the code of good practices that other companies, such as Google or Meta, have subscribed to. “You can run but you can’t hide,” Breton told Musk after that decision. The Internal Market Commissioner warned him that combating disinformation was going to be mandatory under the DSA, which came into force on August 25. That is the legal umbrella under which he is now trying to surround Musk. “Your latest changes in public interest policies that occurred overnight left many European users insecure,” he says in the letter.
He also asks Zuckerberg for explanations about the actions to prevent the spread of “manipulated content” and “ultrafalse” on their platforms. “I ask you to be vigilant to ensure compliance with the DSA rules,” says Breton, who appeals to the need for “effective and proportionate mitigation measures.”
In the case of Meta, Breton also reproaches its owner for circulating false information on their platforms during the electoral process in Slovakia, where the populist and pro-Russian candidate has won.
“I remind you that the DSA requires that the risk of amplification of false and manipulated images and facts generated with the intention of influencing the elections be taken very seriously in terms of mitigation measures,” says the commissioner, who recognizes some advances of the platform after he personally addressed the matter with Zuckerberg in San Francisco in July, but they remain insufficient.
Breton asks him for information about the measures he has implemented for the upcoming EU elections (Poland, Holland, Lithuania, Croatia, Austria, Belgium, Romania and the European elections in 2024).
“The DSA is here to protect freedom of expression against arbitrary decisions and to protect our citizens and democracies,” concludes the French commissioner.