Musk’s Twitter faces renewed regulatory pressure from the EU and US

1 Dec 2022

Image: © Tada Images/

The EU reportedly threatened Musk with a ban if Twitter does not follow digital rules, while there is the potential for a US probe into his purchase of the company.

Elon Musk is facing pressure from both the EU and the US regarding his ownership of Twitter and the direction he plans to take the social network.

Musk has previously spoken about his aim to make Twitter a haven of free speech, and recently shared plans to offer “amnesty” to suspended accounts on Twitter.

However, the European Commission has threatened Musk with a ban unless the company follows strict content moderation rules, the Financial Times reports.

The warning came during a call between Musk and EU commissioner Thierry Breton yesterday (30 November), people with knowledge of the conversation told the Financial Times.

Breton – who is in charge of implementing the EU’s digital policies – told Musk that Twitter must follow a checklist of rules, such as ending the “arbitrary” approach to bringing back suspended accounts and agreeing to an extensive audit next year.

Breton said on Twitter that he welcomed Musk’s intent to “get Twitter 2.0 ready” for the Digital Services Act, the landmark piece of EU legislation passed in July that aims to reign in tech companies and make them take control of content moderation. But he added that there is still “huge work ahead”.

“Twitter will have to implement transparent user policies, significantly reinforce content moderation and protect freedom of speech, tackle disinformation with resolve and limit targeted advertising,” Breton said on Mastodon.

Twitter said in a blogpost on Wednesday that its policies have not changed, but that its approach to policy enforcement will rely more on the de-amplification of violative content. The company described this approach as “freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach”.

Last month, sources with knowledge of the matter told the Financial Times that Musk had closed Twitter’s Brussels office, where staff were responsible for EU digital policy and worked closely with the European Commission.

This raised questions about Twitter’s ability to comply with EU laws in the future. Ireland’s Data Protection Commission reportedly sought clarity from Twitter upon the closure of the Brussels office.

Meanwhile, US Treasury secretary Janet Yellen hinted this week that Musk’s purchase of Twitter could be investigated by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US.

Speaking at a New York Times event, Yellen it would be “appropriate” for the committee to investigate transactions made during Musk’s purchase of Twitter if there are national security risks.

At this event, Yellen also said she “misspoke” in previous comments that played down the likelihood of such a probe.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic