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EU targets disinformation in sweeping Big Tech regulation

The news: The EU reached an agreement last week on the Digital Services Act (DSA), which will impose stricter rules on major tech companies such as Meta, Google, Twitter, and Amazon in the hopes of fighting illegal content and making the internet safer.

More on this: Lawmakers need to finalize details, but the DSA will be one of the first laws restricting the ability of social platforms, search engines, and online marketplaces to target certain European users with ads and to publish harmful content.

  • EU member states will have a greater say in holding platforms accountable for their actions, as a result of the DSA and earlier Digital Markets Act, which addresses anticompetitive behavior.
  • Major tech players like Meta and Amazon will face fines of up to 6% of global sales if they fail to comply with the DSA.

Content police: The DSA will affect content published in the EU in a number of ways:

  • Platforms will be restricted from advertising to users based on personal information such as race or sexual orientation.
  • Advertising to minors will be prohibited, limiting the ability to reach audiences within Generation Alpha and portions of Gen Z. Platforms such as YouTube and TikTok will be expected to publicize more palatable terms and conditions for a younger audience.
  • Platforms will have to provide greater transparency warnings to the user, in addition to granting the European Commission full access to inspect algorithms.
  • Major tech companies will be expected to disclose yearly reports of risks their platforms face with the publication of disinformation and inform authorities of efforts being made to crack down on illegal content.

The big takeaway: As disinformation infests social platforms, the route EU governmental authorities are taking is one of content moderation. But the Commission may face difficulties in recruiting a large enough team of legal, data, and algorithms experts to successfully take on the major tech platforms.

  • If the enforcement of the DSA follows through on a large scale, then a precedent could be set for how other countries including the US can follow suit in taking on tech giants.