LONDON (AP) — Twitter has been unable to provide the European Union with a full report on its efforts to combat online disinformation, and was reprimanded Thursday by top officials from the bloc of 27 countries.
The company signed the voluntary 2022 EU Code on Disinformation last year, before billionaire Tesla CEO Elon Musk purchased the social media platform.
Under the code, online platforms including Google, TikTok, Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta agreed to take steps to reduce disinformation. They submitted their first “baseline” reports last month, showing how they are delivering on their promises.
Everyone who signed up to the voluntary code, including ad tech companies and civil society groups, submitted full reports — except for Twitter.
“I am disappointed to see the Twitter report lag others behind and I expect a more serious commitment to their obligations under the Code,” Vera Jourova, European Commission’s Executive Vice-President for Values and Transparency, said in a statement. “Russia is also engaged in a full-blown disinformation war and the platforms must take responsibility.”
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The social media company’s press office was shut down and its communications team fired after Musk bought it last year.
EU leaders have become alarmed about fake information thriving on online platforms, especially about the COVID-19 pandemic and Russian propaganda during the war in Ukraine. Last year, the code was strengthened by connecting it to the upcoming Digital Services Act, new rules aimed at getting Big Tech companies to clean up their platforms or face hefty fines.
But Musk has expressed concern about what appears on Twitter by ending enforcement of his policy against misinformation about COVID-19 and taking other steps, such as disbanding his Trust and Safety Council that advised on issues such as hate speech and other harmful contents.
Under the EU’s Disinformation Code, a standardized report includes data on how much advertising dollars flowing to “disinformation actors” were blocked; political advertisements that were labeled or rejected; examples of manipulative behavior such as fake accounts; and information on the impact of fact-checking.
Twitter’s report was “a shortage of data, with no information on commitments to strengthen the fact-checking community,” the EU’s executive committee said.
Thierry Breton, the commissioner overseeing digital policy, said it is “no surprise that the level of quality” in the reports varies widely, without mentioning Twitter.
TikTok, meanwhile, praised its efforts under the code to fight false information in Europe.
Caroline Greer, TikTok’s director of public policy and government relations, said in a blog post Thursday that the popular Chinese-owned video-sharing app would expand the use of labels on content from state-controlled media outlets and strengthen work to mitigate the impact. of misleading information due to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“We will continue to invest extensively as we work with others to combat disinformation and promote authentic online experiences for our communities,” said Greer.