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'He's in for a block wall': Elon Musk must follow new EU online safety rules after Twitter sale

Musk’s actions since taking over Twitter have prompted warnings from the United Nations.

LAST UPDATE | Nov 9th 2022, 5:51 PM

Tadgh McNally reports from the European Parliament

ELON MUSK WILL be unable to “flex his muscles” in the EU with sweeping reforms to Twitter, with the tech billionaire set to be required to follow new online safety regulations.

It comes weeks after Musk acquired Twitter and has begun to make sweeping changes, including sacking thousands of employees and beginning the rollout of paid verification for accounts.  

Speaking in Brussels this afternoon, Fine Gael MEP Deirdre Clune said that the tech billionaire would be required to follow all regulations set out by the new Digital Services Act, which received final approval late last month and will come into effect on 16 November.

Under the Act, which aims to “create a safer digital space”, social media companies will have to comply with rules around reducing the spread of disinformation as well as illegal content online.

“Twitter will certainly be a challenge because he cannot act as he has stated. He needs to follow what’s stated in the Digital Services Act,” said Clune.

“He’s in for a block wall according to [EU Commissioners] Thierry Breton and Margrethe Vestager who were responsible for bringing in that legislation.

“He can flex his muscles in the US but the legislation will be pointed out to him when he comes this side.”

Ahead of his purchase of Twitter, Musk had flagged that content moderation on the social media platform would be reduced and he said that a “content moderation council” would be established.

Under the Digital Services Act, social media companies will be forced to comply with all regulations by 1 January 2024.

Musk took control of Twitter and fired its top executives in late October, after a drawn-out back-and-forth between the world’s richest person and the influential social media company.

The billionaire initially tried to step back from the deal after his unsolicited offer was accepted in April.

He said in July that he was canceling the contract because he had been misled by Twitter over the number of fake “bot” accounts, allegations rejected by the company.

After Musk sought to terminate the sale, Twitter filed a lawsuit to hold the entrepreneur to the agreement. With a trial looming, he revived his takeover plan.

On Friday, Twitter sacked half of its 7,500-strong staff as its new owner launched an overhaul of the company.

Jack Dorsey, who co-founded Twitter in 2006 and stepped down as CEO last year, tweeted to apologize for growing the site too quickly, following news of the firings.

It comes as Musk sold almost $4 billion worth of his stock in electric car company Tesla.

Additional reporting by AFP

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