Title: Concerns Rise Over Potential Implications of EU Media Freedom Act on Marginalized Groups and Global Online Platforms
As the European Union’s Media Freedom Act prepares to be adopted, concerns are being raised regarding potential arbitrary content moderation and discrimination. Marginalized groups, already targeted with hate speech, fear that this new legislation could further harm them. Moreover, the implications of this law may extend far beyond Europe, potentially impacting vulnerable people worldwide.
Of particular concern is Article 17 of the proposed law, which deviates from the principle that online platforms should not be forced to host any content. Instead, it grants special privileges to certain media outlets. This regulation mandates that “very large online platforms” such as Twitter and Facebook create a registration portal for media actors to self-declare as independent and regulated providers. The responsibility of determining status is left to the platforms themselves.
Previously, platforms were only obligated to notify media actors before removing content. However, the new proposals require platforms to host media content for up to 24 hours without labeling or blurring posts. Critics argue that this approach gives self-declared media outlets the freedom to publish any type of content without consequence, while restricting platforms from marking false stories or promptly removing objectionable content. This undermines media pluralism and allows rogue actors to manipulate public discourse and distort information.
In addition, this law hampers platforms’ ability to warn users about harmful content, including state propaganda and disinformation. By adding an extra layer of obligations to the already-enacted Digital Services Act, platforms may become overwhelmed with new procedures.
The Media Freedom Act creates a dilemma for platforms, as the Digital Services Act focuses on avoiding discrimination and inconsistency in content moderation, while the Media Freedom Act seems to incentivize the opposite. This brings into question the ability of powerful media outlets to prioritize fast-track communication channels, potentially eroding users’ trust in the media’s ability to deliver reliable information and scrutinize political leaders.
Critics argue that the EU Media Freedom Act should either be rejected altogether or significantly revised in order to protect media freedom and ensure the availability of reliable information for users.
As the debate continues, it remains to be seen how this legislation will ultimately shape online platforms and affect marginalized groups and media diversity both in Europe and worldwide.