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Removal of legal content by online platforms in the context of the implementation of the Digital Services Act and the European elections

Question écrite de M. Kosma ZŁOTOWSKI - Commission européenne

Question de M. Kosma ZŁOTOWSKI,

Diffusée le 18 avril 2024

Subject: Removal of legal content by online platforms in the context of the implementation of the Digital Services Act and the European elections

The Auschwitz Museum has reported that Facebook has removed posts from the museum’s profile, including one commemorating the fate of Jewish children from an orphanage in Izieu1. The reason given was that the posts contained ‘bullying and harassment’, ‘hate speech’ and ‘incitement to violence’. This shows that censorship of legal content on social media platforms is a real problem.

The Digital Services Act2 aims to combat illegal content, but some of the Commission’s actions could be interpreted as an attempt to force platforms to remove content for political or ideological reasons as well, and this can lead to situations like the shocking case mentioned above. For example, Commissioner Breton has stated in the past that the Commission would block media outlets that failed to crack down on ‘problematic content’ relating to the coverage of social protests.3

1. What organisational arrangements has the Commission put in place within the entities that implement the DSA to ensure that officials are not subject to political pressure, especially taking into account the interests of the Commission’s leadership ahead of the European elections?

2. How does the Commission intend to prevent the removal of online content that is not illegal as defined in the DSA, and does the Commission intend to introduce, by means of voluntary codes of conduct, additional obligations for platforms previously rejected by the EP in the negotiations?

3. How will the Commission guarantee freedom of expression online given that the definition of hate speech differs between Member States, and that the concept of disinformation is often interpreted very broadly and used to censor inconvenient content and conduct political warfare?

Submitted:19.4.2024

1 https://x.com/AuschwitzMuseum/status/1778819782424363210.

2 https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex%3A32022R2065.

3 https://www.politico.eu/article/social-media-riot-shutdowns-possible-under-eu-content-law-breton-says/

Réponse de Commission européenne

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