An international agreement ends the chaos of “Social Media”

Qusai Al-Shatti for “Al-Rai”:
The platforms will be held responsible for misleading and spreading rumors
– Europe has realized the difference between freedom of expression and harming others
A tacit recognition by the European Union of the correctness of what we have done in our region

A landmark and historic agreement in the world of social media is about to see the light of day, which will be drawn up by negotiators from the European Parliament and the 27 member states of the European Union, after agreeing on a new law known as the Digital Services Act.

This unprecedented law forces companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Google and Amazon to further regulate harmful online content such as hate speech and disinformation, remove illegal content and cooperate with government authorities.

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Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said that this agreement was historic because “our new rules will protect users on the Internet and guarantee freedom of expression and opportunities for companies,” explaining that “what is illegal from the Internet is, will be illegal on the internet … This is a powerful sign for people, companies and countries around the world. “

Under the new law, companies like Facebook and Twitter will be forced to work with governments to remove illegal content, as well as to hold platforms accountable for offensive content, as in the case of traditional media that take responsibility when publishing offensive material.

Information technology expert Qusai Al-Shatti believes that “the agreement is a historic turning point in the West’s actions, represented by the European Union and the United States, with the Internet and cyberspace. Electronic content for the first time, ‘ a subject that was not recently accepted by the West, and is therefore seen as a major and major transformation for the European Union with regard to the Internet and social networks. “

Al-Shatti said in statements to Al-Rai that “the agreement is twofold, one of which is economic and the other socio-political,” pointing out that it is “based on the fact that what applies on the ground also applies. “This means that what is considered illegal on the ground (from the internet) is also illegal on the internet.”

He explained that “the economic aspect includes the (digital services) law, which is within the umbrella of a more comprehensive law (digital markets) issued by the European Union a few years ago. This law deals with the sale of electronically counterfeit and counterfeit products., or the sale of products that do not meet the specifications and standards of the European Union, Verification of the identity of suppliers before their products are offered for sale on online platforms, as well as dealing with anti-competitive practices such as the use of fraudulent electronic interfaces that push Internet users to certain account settings or certain paid services.

One of the highlights of this law is the use of data related to political opinions for the purpose of advertising targeting.

And he added: “The other part of the agreement is socio-political, related to misinformation, disinformation, spreading rumors and hate speech, spreading extremism and reinforcing any of these aspects.

The European Union has realized that in the age of digital transformation and social networking it is not possible to rely on the awareness of internet and social network users in this regard, as many of them take information as they receive it and other part. without concern about the validity of the information or the reliability of its source, and this has led to the emergence and spread of bad behavior such as cyberbullying.

Therefore, the responsibility will be placed on the platform or instrument that published it, as is the case in traditional media. ”

And he believes that “one of the factors that accelerated it was the (Covid 19) pandemic, if we take for example what has been published of misleading information about vaccines and their effects and the circulation of unreliable information about the pandemic, its consequences and danger, and how it significantly contributed to the increase in the number of injuries and the number of deaths And the unwillingness to vaccinate, which prolonged the period of closures and led to business disruption, economic losses and job losses in many European countries.

He added, “The European Union, which has previously criticized the Arab states and the Gulf states, including Kuwait, for regulating electronic content legally, and sees it as a restriction on freedoms, and has also raised it on an official level.

We can imagine Secretary of State and former US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton supporting this agreement, even though she was a big supporter of the so-called Arab Spring movements and the freedom to use the internet and social networks.

He stressed that “the European Union today has realized that the difference between freedom of expression and harm to others should be a clear and not a thin line. Increase transparency about its data and the algorithms used to make recommendations to users to make.”

8 new controls

According to the Digital Services Act, social networks will have to comply with the following: – The obligation to remove any illegal content “urgently” (according to national and European laws), as soon as the platform becomes aware of its presence on its pages.

Requires social networks to suspend the accounts of users who “repeatedly” violate the law.

Requires e-commerce sites to verify the identity of their suppliers before displaying their products.

– Blocking misleading interfaces that push Internet users to certain account settings or paid services.

Entities with “more than 45 million active users” in the European Union will themselves have to assess the risks associated with the use of their services and develop appropriate ways to remove problematic content.

To impose more transparency on these companies regarding their data and the algorithms adopted to provide recommendations to users.

These entities are audited once a year by independent bodies, and will also be placed under the supervision of the European Commission, which may impose fines of up to 6 percent of its annual sales in the event of repeated infringements.

Prohibit the use of data related to political opinions for the purpose of advertising targeting.

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