LONDON -- Twitter has dropped out of a voluntary European Union agreement to combat online disinformation, a top EU official said Friday.
European Commissioner Thierry Breton tweeted that Twitter had pulled out of the EU's disinformation “code of practice” that other major social media platforms have pledged to support. But he added that Twitter's “obligation” remained, referring to the EU's tough new digital rules taking effect in August.
“You can run but you can’t hide,” Breton said.
San Francisco-based Twitter responded with an automated reply, as it does to most press inquiries, and did not comment.
The decision to abandon the commitment to fighting false information appears to be the latest move by billionaire owner Elon Musk to loosen the reins on the social media company after he bought it last year. He has rolled back previous anti-misinformation rules, and has thrown its verification system and content-moderation policies into chaos as he pursues his goal of turning Twitter into a digital town square.
Google, TikTok, Microsoft and Facebook and Instagram parent Meta are among those that have signed up to the EU code, which requires companies to measure their work on combating disinformation and issue regular reports on their progress.
There were already signs Twitter wasn't prepared to live up to its commitments. The European Commission, the 27-nation bloc's executive arm, blasted Twitter earlier this year for failing to provide a full first report under the code, saying it provided little specific information and no targeted data.
Breton said that under the new digital rules that incorporate the code of practice, fighting disinformation will become a “legal obligation.”
“Our teams will be ready for enforcement,” he said.