Elon Musk Reportedly Shuts Twitter Office in Brussels After EU Enacts Censorship Law

SpaceX owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk poses as he arrives on the red carpet for the Axel Springer Awards ceremony, in Berlin, on December 1, 2020. (Photo by Britta Pedersen / POOL / AFP) (Photo by BRITTA PEDERSEN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
BRITTA PEDERSEN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Twitter has reportedly shut down its office in the de-facto capital of the European Union this week in a potential shot across the bow at the bloc over freedom of speech.

A showdown between the censorious European Union and the notionally pro-free speech Elon Musk may be brewing after the new Twitter chief reportedly shut down its office in Brussels this week.

According to a report from the Financial Times, the office was shut down after the departure of Dario La Nasa and Julia Mozer, who previously served as conduits between the company and Eurocrats as well as being in charge of Twitter’s digital policy in Europe.

While it is not clear at present why the two employees left the company, however, the move comes just one week after the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA) finally came into force. The legislation grants Brussels more powers to police so-called ‘hate speech’, while also enacting punishment mechanisms against internet platforms that fail to abide by the bloc’s rules.

Should a company such as Twitter refuse to comply with the DSA by February of 2024, the EU will be able to impose fines of up to six per cent of their global revenue and even possibly ban the platform altogether.

Speaking to the FT, the EU’s vice-president for disinformation, Věra Jourová said: “I am concerned about the news of firing such a vast amount of staff of Twitter in Europe. If you want to effectively detect and take action against disinformation and propaganda, this requires resources.

“Especially in the context of Russian disinformation warfare, I expect Twitter to fully respect the EU law and honour its commitments. Twitter has been a very useful partner in the fight against disinformation and illegal hate speech and this must not change.”

Though Mr Musk has claimed that he hopes to facilitate the social media site to return to its pro-free speech routes, he has already made some concessions, including maintaining a regime of shadow-banning posts and accounts that spread supposedly hateful messages. He has also stated that he will not allow controversial InfoWars host Alex Jones to return to the platform.

Prior to his takeover of the company in May, Musk met with the European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton, who was the driving force behind the introduction of the DSA. During the meeting, the billionaire tech boss said that he was “exactly aligned” with the philosophy of the EU on censorship.

Perhaps reminding him of this commitment, upon Musk’s official takeover, Breton said: “In Europe, the bird will fly by our rules.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

COMMENTS

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.