As Elon Musk continues to cull Twitter’s workforce, the ‘chief twit’ will need to tread lightly with regulators as Brussels will be watching his company’s compliance with its new Digital Service Act (DSA) closely, according to experts.

The EU has brought in two new pieces of legislation – the DSA and the Digital Markets Act (DMA) – bundled in together as the Digital Services Act package (DSA package). 

The DSA package hopes to create a safer and more open digital space for individuals and businesses. 

“The introduction of the DSA puts a very strong weighting on transparency for big tech companies like Twitter,” Nicky Danino, principal lecturer in the School of Computer Science at UCLan, told Verdict.

Under the new legislation, there are clear obligations to remove illegal content and online disinformation swiftly. 

This could be an issue for the self-proclaimed free speech absolutist Musk, who has been relentlessly firing his workforce after he begrudgingly had to buy Twitter after backing out of the deal that was first announced earlier this year. Members of the sacked staff include the teams that focus on battling misinformation on the platform. 

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By GlobalData

Laura Petrone, analyst at research firm GlobalData, says the layoffs may be a red light to EU regulators. 

Petrone told Verdict: “EU regulators may well think that Twitter’s massive layoffs, which affected content moderators and executives implementing EU rules, are a sign that the company cannot guarantee full compliance, especially when swiftly removing illegal content after this has been reported.”

As well as the relentless layoffs, Twitter’s chaotic launch of its blue tick verification service also could see it in the firing line of Brussels. 

The confusing blue tick verification service, which allowed any user to pay for a verified blue tick, led to a slew of impersonations on the platform. 

Petrone says this is “particularly concerning as it could potentially lead to the proliferation of harmful or even illegal content.”

Twitter is struggling with its finances, with Musk saying a couple of weeks ago that the platform had experienced a “massive drop in revenue.”

“Twitter cannot afford to ignore regulators’ warnings,” Petrone said, “the European Commission can stop an online platform from operating in the single market.”

GlobalData is the parent company of Verdict and its sister publications.