SOCIAL MEDIA | Twitter, Tumbler, Vimeo Push Back Against EU Rules On Illegal Online Content

BELGRADE – JUNE 13, 2014 Social media website logos Facebook, Twitter and other printed on paper

Twitter and three other U.S. tech companies have urged the EU to take a flexible approach towards harmful and illegal online content instead of blanket rules requiring takedown, saying this would preserve an open internet.

U.S. internet media group IAC/InterActiveCorp – owned online video platform Vimeo, nonprofit browser maker Mozilla and Automattic, owner of online publishing tool WordPress.com, made the call a week before EU tech chief Margrethe Vestager is due to present her draft rules.

Known as the Digital Services Act, the rule aim to get bigger companies to take more responsible for removing illegal and harmful content as soon as they have been notified. 

In a joint open letter published on Wednesday, Twitter and the other companies said  the solution should be broader than just removing content. Blunt content removal obligations could have a negative impact on freedom of expression, they said.

‘…By limiting policy options to a solely stay up – come down binary, we forgo promising alternatives that could better address the spread and impact of problematic content while safeguarding rights and the potential for smaller companies to compete’, they said.

The companies said a better tactic would be to limit the number of people who encounter harmful content.

‘This can achieved by placing a technological emphasis on visibility over prevalence, supporting measures towards algorithmic transparency and control, setting limits to the discoverability of harmful content, further exploring community moderation, and providing meaningful user choice’, they said.

The companies said new EU rules should also take into account the rise of decentralized hosting of content and data.

Following the announcement of the draft rules on Dec.15, the European Commission will have to thrash out a final legislative draft with EU countries and European Parliament, in a process likely to take months and even years.

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