EU Goes To War With Musk Over Free Speech

On Tuesday, the European Union (EU) declared that Elon Musk, the prospective new owner of Twitter, must “quickly adapt” to the union’s new rules for online platforms, which were just completed in the past week. If Musk fails to “quickly adapt,” then he is subject to various fines.

“[Musk] is familiar with European rules on automotive, and will quickly adapt to the Digital Services Act,” Thierry Breton, who serves as the Internal Market Commissioner for the European Commission, declared.

“Be it cars or social media, any company operating in Europe needs to comply with our rules – regardless of their shareholding. Mr Musk knows this well,” Breton added.

The commissioner also noted in remarks to the Financial Times that the EU has “rules,” and while Musk is “welcome,” he must “apply” himself to rules in the EU.

In the next several weeks, the EU is expected to unveil yet another policy regarding social media platforms. This particular effort is known as the Digital Services Act. Originally presented at the end of 2020, the legislation aims to place new restrictions on varied social media platforms.

If social media giants fail to comply with the Digital Services Act, they may face fines that constitute up to 6 percent of their revenue. Should social media platforms continue to defy the Digital Services Act, per the judgment of varied EU officials, then social media companies may be “banned from operating in Europe,” much in the same way China and other authoritarian regimes have banned access to social media platforms.

Per recent reports from the New York Times, the Digital Services Act “does not order internet platforms to remove specific forms of speech, leaving that to individual countries to define.” The Times clarified that references to Nazism remain illegal in Germany, but such references are not illegal in other EU member nation states.

Moreover, the Times also notes that companies are required to provide users with new means of “[flagging] illicit content.”

The EU ostensibly passed the Digital Services Act in the last week due to the war in Ukraine, though the overt remarks to Musk on behalf of the commissioner raise questions about the curious nature of the bill’s passing.

Earlier this week, Musk retweeted a screenshot of himself, featuring a quote that has since enraged various critics in the Democrat Party: “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy.”

Musk also added that Twitter serves as ”the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” which is precisely why free speech, barring explicit calls to violence, must be preserved at all costs.