War is declared between Twitter and the European Union. The social network has chosen "confrontation" by deciding to leave the EU code of good practice against online disinformation, denounced Monday, June 5, the vice-president of the European Commission, Vera Jourova.

The Commission announced ten days ago that the American company controlled by Elon Musk was withdrawing from this code, launched in 2018 and based on volunteerism, which contains about forty commitments aimed in particular at better cooperating with "fact-checkers" and depriving of advertising sites disseminating infox.

Beyond the commitments already made, the fight against disinformation will become a legal obligation under the DSA (the European regulation on digital services) which is due to enter into force on 25 August.

If Twitter "wants to operate and make money in the European market, it will have to comply with the law on digital services," Vera Jourova said.

In the event of non-compliance with this new legislation, recalcitrant companies risk a fine of up to 6% of their overall turnover.

Twitter's decision comes as no surprise to Brussels: since his acquisition of the social network in October, billionaire Elon Musk has significantly relaxed rules designed to protect users from disinformation and has reactivated the accounts of banned personalities, including figures of conspiracy and neo-Nazi movements, in the name of freedom of expression.

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A policy of minimal moderation that creates turbulence within the management of the network to the blue bird. Earlier this month, the head of Twitter's trust and security team, Ella Irwin, who oversaw moderation policies, announced her resignation.

YouTube's about-face

But misinformation isn't just gaining ground on Twitter. The video platform YouTube indicated on June 2 that it was ceasing to apply the automatic removal of content claiming that the 2020 US presidential election in the United States had been marred by irregularities or rigged to prevent the re-election of Donald Trump.

In the United States, this decision to remove a regulation put in place in December 2020 worries several associations fighting against "fake news". "YouTube and other platforms have weakened their policy of fighting disinformation, as if an attempted insurgency was not enough. Here they are preparing the ground for the next one, "laments in a statement the NGO Media Matters for America in reference to the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021 by supporters of Donald Trump.

For its part, YouTube justifies its about-face by the political context related to the beginning of the electoral campaign for the presidential election of 2024. "The ability to freely debate political ideas, even those that are controversial or based on false assumptions, is essential to the functioning of a democratic society, especially in the middle of an election period," the platform argued.

A point of view that the social network Instagram has also made its own by reactivating the account of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., champion of the dissemination of false information about Covid-19, who announced in April his candidacy for the Democratic nomination.

"Now that he is an active candidate for President of the United States, we have restored access to Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s Instagram account," Andy Stone, a spokesman for Instagram and Facebook, told The Washington Post.

Status quo upheld by the Supreme Court

After these serial setbacks in online moderation, the conservative clan is jubilant in the United States and applauds Elon Musk's libertarian offensive which, according to some figures of the ultra-right, has influenced other social networks.

"Twitter is shaking things up and forcing other platforms to convert to freedom of expression," said far-right influencer ALX.

As early as January 2022, the bluebird platform had indicated that it would no longer take any action against false information related to the US election won by Joe Biden.

The issue of the regulation of social networks is a recurring subject of conflict between Democrats and Republicans, the former pushing for greater control of online content, the latter arguing instead for absolute freedom of expression.

On May 18, the US Supreme Court refused to restrict freedom of expression online, confirming that platforms are not responsible for messages posted by their users. The case was seized by relatives of two victims of Islamist attacks committed in a nightclub in Istanbul in 2017 and in Paris in November 2015. In these two separate cases, the plaintiffs argued that Google and Twitter had not done enough to limit the dissemination of Islamic State propaganda.

A maintenance of the status quo welcomed by the Mountain View firm and civil liberties associations. "We will continue to work to preserve a space for free expression online, combat dangerous content, and support entrepreneurs and creators who profit from the internet," said Halimah DeLaine Prado, head of Google's legal team.

>> See also: From GDPR to Silicon Valley repentants: take your data back into your own hands!

While this decision is a major victory for the digital industry, the debate on the responsibility of content hosted by platforms is far from over in the United States. For supporters of greater regulation, Europe is once again serving as a source of inspiration with its DSA, a binding regulation for the giants of the net and which the EU wants to make a global standard.

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