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Elon Musk and the new EU rules for transparency for platforms

Tech Policy Press: “Billionaire Twitter CEO Elon Musk continues to face a wave of criticism for his capricious decisions, especially from Brussels and Berlin. Yet, the EU owes Musk a debt of gratitude, says Julian Jaursch, a project director at the not-for-profit think tank Stiftung Neue Verantwortung (SNV) in Berlin Germany. Musk is involuntarily proving how important the new rules for transparency for platforms are. Now, making sure the rules are properly enforced is key, he argues…especially in Europe, 2023 will be the year in which this discussion picks up speed again. It is the year in which the Digital Services Act (DSA) – the EU’s comprehensive new set of rules for platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Google and TikTok – will be implemented. Especially since Musk’s Twitter takeover plans were announced, politicians from across the EU have pointed this out over and over again on their US trips. Just recently, a member of the German government paid Musk a visit in San Francisco, imploring the CEO to honor voluntary commitments to deal with disinformation until the DSA applies (“Elon Musk agreed with me”, he tweeted afterwards). This shows that there are serious concerns in governments and parliaments about arbitrary decisions that make platforms like Twitter more insecure and endanger fundamental rights.

But despite all the indignation, the EU should also thank Elon Musk. Musk has drawn attention to the DSA in a way that no press release from the European Commission could have done. This is due to his business decisions (mass layoffs in key areas of the company, such as trust and safety; management via Twitter polls; withdrawal of layoffs; inexplicable content moderation decisions; unpaid rent, etc.) and perhaps also his at best quirky, at worst authoritarian manner, which is a boon for media outlets…”

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