Brussels: The European Union said that 19 major online platforms and search engines will be subject to extra scrutiny under its new content moderation rules, setting up a potential fight with companies like Twitter that may not have enough staff to comply.
Twitter, Alphabet’s YouTube and Google Shopping, and Meta Platform’s Facebook and Instagram, as well as TikTok and Snapchat, will be required to meet the additional requirements under the bloc’s new Digital Services Act, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton told reporters Tuesday.
The “very large online platforms,” or VLOPs, which have more than 45 million monthly active users - equivalent to about 10 per cent of the bloc’s population - will be responsible for taking down illegal content, hiring adequate content moderators in every EU language and sending annual risk assessments to the EU’s executive body detailing how they handle harmful content. Non-compliance can cost the company as much as 6 per cent annual revenue or even get the platform banned.
“As of August 25, they are not able to act as if they are too big to care,” Breton said.
“I am particularly concerned by the content moderation system of Facebook, which is a platform playing an important role in the opinion building,” he added. “Now that Facebook has been designated as a very large online platforms, Meta needs to carefully investigate its system and fix it where needed ASAP.”
Europe introduced the landmark DSA last year, spurred by what the EU saw as a failure by tech giants to combat illegal content on their platforms. The rules include restrictions on using sensitive data such as race or religion for ad targeting, a ban on targeting ads to minors and a block on tactics that push people into consenting to online tracking.
All websites will be accountable under the DSA, but platforms with more than 45 million users will have to abide by stricter rules.
Twitter may struggle to comply after CEO Elon Musk carried out mass layoffs across Europe and the globe. Breton said the EU will carry out a live stress test at Twitter in June.
Breton also said that he proposed a stress test at TikTok as well. “I am happy that now they came back to us saying they’re interested.”
The bloc will now evaluate whether other platforms should be classified as VLOPs. “It’s true that we are working 4-5 additional platforms” on which we have doubts,” he said.