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EU welcomes Meta plans for tough content rules

European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton is meeting with executives of big tech platforms during a visit to San
European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton is meeting with executives of big tech platforms during a visit to San Francisco.

The EU on Friday cautiously welcomed efforts made by Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, to prepare for new European rules on content moderation that kick in on August 25.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg "was very involved and knew exactly where we stand," EU commissioner Thierry Breton told reporters after talks at the social media giant's California headquarters.

"Now we expect the promising commitments I heard today to translate into results. I will be particularly vigilant on progress regarding disinformation and ," he said.

Breton said that more than 1,000 people were working on implementation at Meta of the European Union's Digital Services Act (DSA) and that the company had agreed to carry out a "stress test" in July to ensure it was prepared for the new rules.

The test would take place at Meta's EU headquarters in Dublin, with video app TikTok also signed up to carry out the procedure with EU officials.

The EU commissioner made a two-day visit to San Francisco eight weeks before the DSA comes into full force for the world's biggest platforms, including Meta's Facebook and Instagram, as well as TikTok and Twitter.

The DSA is one of the most ambitious legislations on controlling online content since the advent of social media, putting major obligations on how platforms deal with the free flow of speech.

To meet the new rules, Twitter, Meta, TikTok and other platforms will have to invest heavily on building compliance teams at a time when big tech companies have been cutting staff, including their content moderation workforce.

In a tweet following the talks, Meta's head of public policy Nick Clegg welcomed a "constructive discussion" with the EU.

Meta, with platforms that reach billions of users worldwide, continues to come under fire for its failings in taking down toxic content.

A report earlier this month in the Wall Street Journal found that Instagram is the main used by pedophile networks to promote and sell content showing child sexual abuse

The meeting with Zuckerberg followed a similar meeting with Elon Musk at Twitter headquarters, where the commissioner also welcomed the efforts made ahead of the DSA's entry into force.

But Breton told Musk and his new CEO Linda Yaccarino that the company will have to have adequate resources in place to meet the new rules, or risk being in infraction with EU authorities.

Major violations of DSA rules could see tech giants slapped with fines as high as six percent of annual turnover and, if violations persist, be banned outright from the EU as a last resort measure.

© 2023 AFP

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