EU hits back at Elon Musk over Twitter purchase: 'The bird will fly by our rules'

Thierry Breton says the platform will continue to abide by EU regulations

Published

The EU has hit back at Elon Musk's claim that he has "freed" Twitter upon purchasing the platform.

European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton has said the website will continue to abide by EU regulations despite becoming part of the billionaire's portfolio.

Musk has made various pledges to make Twitter a platform of "free speech" after he sealed his takeover, for a fee reported to be in the region of $44bn.

The SpaceX founder tweeted in recognition of his purchase: "The bird is freed," in reference to Twitter's blue bird logo.

FILE PHOTO: Tesla CEO Elon Musk attends the Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory groundbreaking ceremony in Shanghai, China January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Tesla CEO Elon Musk attends the Tesla Shanghai Gigafactory groundbreaking ceremony in Shanghai, China January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

In response, Breton commented: "In Europe, the bird will fly by our [EU] rules."

According to Bloomberg, the Tesla boss also intends to get rid of permanent bans on user accounts because he does not believe in lifelong suspensions, the report said.

This means high-profile and polarising figures who had been previously banned, including former US president Donald Trump, would be allowed to return, but it remains unclear when this could happen.

That stance has alarmed online safety campaigners and many Twitter users, who have also raised concerns about Mr Musk’s aim of allowing “absolute free speech” on the platform.

On Friday Mr Trump posted on his own Truth Social platform that he was “very happy Twitter is now in sane hands”, but did not comment on any possible return, instead praising his own app, which was launched after his Twitter ban.

And mayor of London Sadiq Khan said any decision to allow banned users back on the site should be taken “incredibly carefully and in direct consultation with experts”, given the size and importance of the platform within modern online life.

Elon Musk has pledged to make the platform more receptive to "free speech".
Elon Musk has pledged to make the platform more receptive to "free speech".

“Twitter plays an immensely important role in politics today,” he said on Twitter.

“It offers many benefits to society, but the growing dangers of digitally-instigated violent extremism, racism, xenophobia, misogyny and misinformation are very real, and pose an existential threat to our democracy.

“We cannot allow kids growing up today to be exposed to the vile and violent ideologies of some users.

“Any decision about allowing suspended users to return must be taken incredibly carefully & in direct consultation with experts in countering digital hate & misinformation.

“There has been much discussion about whether Donald Trump will be permitted to return following his permanent suspension.

“If he is, Twitter should hold him accountable w/ clear and robust rules that the former President must sign up to—and those rules must be enforced.

“As Twitter begins a new chapter, I wish Elon and his team every success.

“The state of our democracy and civic life really do depend on it.”