First appeared in Western Journal
By Aron Solomon
Elon Musk’s decision to withdraw Twitter from the European Union’s disinformation agreement raises the possibility of him shutting down the platform in Europe.
The EU’s Digital Services Act, which comes into effect in August, imposes certain requirements on social media sites operating in the EU. If Twitter fails to adhere to these rules, it could face a ban from the EU.
As Politico reported last week, EU Commissioner Thierry Breton expressed his intention to personally hold Musk accountable for complying with the bloc’s content regulations.
Then, on Monday, the situation dramatically escalated when France’s digital minister, Jean-Noël Barrot, issued a warning to Twitter, stating that if Musk does not take serious measures to address the increasing problem of “disinformation” on the platform, the entire EU could ban Twitter from its territory.
While Musk tests the waters by removing Twitter from a voluntary code of practice in Europe, he faces a growing threat that this move may ultimately result in the platform being shut down in the region.
Many media outlets, such as Business Insider, have conflated Musk’s withdrawal from the EU regulations with a voluntary departure from Europe. The former is easy — the latter is extremely complicated.
As someone who closely follows Twitter and Musk, I’m convinced that Musk realizes that if Twitter were to pull out of Europe, the platform would be doomed.
Twitter has close to 30 million active users in the EU. That’s not only 10 percent of Twitter’s overall user base; it’s a comparatively affluent segment that’s attractive to Twitter’s advertising base.
While Musk has until Aug. 25 to change his mind and align with these EU rules — targeting misinformation, illegal content and safer advertising — the ultimate question will be what happens if he chooses not to align or only partially accede to EU legislation.
The most likely scenario will be a negotiation between Twitter and EU regulators, as attorney John Lawlor suggests: “It is in the best interest of Twitter and legislators (not only in Europe but here in the United States) to find ways to work together. A European ban on Twitter or Twitter voluntarily leaving Europe should both be seen as the last resort.”
Negotiations only work when both parties feel they have something to gain by giving up something to the other side. It’s hard here to see where the win would be for European regulators.
They will either hold Musk to be on the correct side of the clearly drawn regulatory line, or they’ll make what could become a fatal exception to the legislation.
About Aron Solomon
A Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer, Aron Solomon, JD, is the Chief Legal Analyst for Esquire Digital and the Editor-in-Chief for Today’s Esquire. He has taught entrepreneurship at McGill University and the University of Pennsylvania, and was elected to Fastcase 50, recognizing the top 50 legal innovators in the world. Aron has been featured in Forbes, CBS News, CNBC, USA Today, ESPN, TechCrunch, The Hill, BuzzFeed, Fortune, Venture Beat, The Independent, Fortune China, Yahoo!, ABA Journal, Law.com, The Boston Globe, YouTube, NewsBreak, and many other leading publications.