“I Am the Regulator!”: EU Commissioner Warns Social Media to Censor After French Riots

Credit: Montecruz Foto 

L’Etat, c’est moi” – “I am the state” – Louis XIV is supposed to have said. And in a contemporary echo of that famous phrase, EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton repeatedly stressed on Monday that “I am the regulator” when lambasting social media networks for “not having done enough” during the recent French riots and threatening them with sanctions, including even banishment, if they should remain similarly inactive after August 25.

Not having done enough of what? Well, namely censorship: suppression of content that the European Commission deems to have been in some way or another harmful in the circumstances. Hence, the importance of the August 25 date. For August 25 will mark exactly four months since the European Commission officially designated 17 “Very Large Online Platforms” and two “Very Large Online Search Engines,” and from that date forward, per the below timeline, the designated entities will have to be in compliance with the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA), which is designed precisely to “regulate” online speech.

Breton made his remarks in conversation with the French public broadcaster France Info, noting that in the future the social media companies will have to be proactive in deleting content or face sanctions. “When there is hateful content,” he said, “content that calls, for example, for revolt, also that calls to kill – because we’ve seen that too, [from] individuals – …they will have the obligation to delete it instantly. If they don’t do it, they will be immediately sanctioned.”