Germany Warns Elon Musk of Breaking EU Misinformation Laws on Twitter

The German digital director met with Elon Musk this week regarding the European Union's online misinformation policy.

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German digital director warns Elon Musk against misinformation on Twitter
Image: Leon Neal (Getty Images)

Twitter CEO Elon Musk met with Germany’s digital director to discuss the country’s expectations for disinformation on the platform. German Embassy representatives organized the meeting in San Francisco which was scheduled with very little notice, the evening before it took place.

Digital and Transport Minister Volker Wissing traveled to California to meet with Musk before attending the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. During the meeting, Wissing informed Musk that misinformation content posted on Twitter goes against the Digital Service Act (DSA) which was passed in April of last year by all 27 member states of the European Union (EU).

The EU introduced the DSA to protect children, tackle misogyny, and curb disinformation, amongst other goals. When the DSA was first passed, the EU member states warned that Twitter was not ready for the changes which would be fully enforced on major platforms by the summer.

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Thierry Breton, the EU commissioner who oversaw the legislation told Musk in April that he had “huge work ahead” to comply with the act on Twitter which he eventually purchased for $44 billion in October, according to The Guardian.

“The Digital Services Act is groundbreaking legislation that will set a worldwide standard for content regulation and the protection of users from online harms,” Peter Church, a technology lawyer at Linklaters, told The Guardian.

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The meeting comes after Musk reinstated the accounts of thousands of individuals who had previously been suspended from Twitter for going against the company’s various policies, including those that banned the spreading false information, making harmful or offensive comments, and spreading antisemitic or racist views.

But in November, Twitter also announced it would no longer enforce the covid-19 misinformation policy that was put in place during the early days of the pandemic in 2020.

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However, a German ministry spokesperson said in an email to Gizmodo that their government is closely monitoring the changes at Twitter since Musk’s takeover. “In his talks with Elon Musk, Federal Minister Wissing made it clear, among other things, that Germany expects the existing voluntary commitments against disinformation and the rules of the Digital Services Act to be observed in the future,” she said.

Twitter did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment, likely because the company no longer has any sort of communications department.

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Germany and other EU member states have “set clear rules … to take action against illegal content, increasing disinformation and bots in social networks,” the spokesperson said, adding that all companies need to be held accountable for the content that is shared on their platforms.

The spokesperson declined to comment on Musk’s statements during the meeting but said “It was spoken very openly and at length.” She continued, “Elon Musk has pledged that he intends to comply with the commitments and future rules of the DSA.”