Fact Check: EU Will NOT Censor Free Speech And Independent Media Starting From August 25

Fact Check

  • by: Lead Stories Staff
Fact Check: EU Will NOT Censor Free Speech And Independent Media Starting From August 25 No Such Rule

Is the European Union planning to suppress the right to free speech online, censoring divergent political opinions and independent media? No, that's not true: a new set of rules, called The Digital Services Act, aims to protect online users' fundamental rights against disinformation and illegal content in the EU. It mainly introduces stricter rules for big tech companies, which have until August 25, 2023, to comply with these rules.

The claim seems to have originated from a video (archived here), published on TikTok by user dana19722 on June 5, 2023, under the title in Romanian:

Din 25 august 2023! SUPRIMAREA dreptului la liberฤƒ exprimare

Translated into English by Lead Stories staff it reads:

Starting from 25 August 2023! SUPPRESSING the right to free expression

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-07-13 at 14.15.11.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Thu Jul 13 10:41:04 2023 UTC)

Under the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act, big tech companies will be forced to clean up their platforms of disinformation and harmful content and to better protect users online, including minors. Combating disinformation will become a legal requirement, and the users can easily report illegal content like hate speech and get more information on why they have been recommended certain content.

Nineteen big online platforms or search engines (with more than 45 million monthly active users in the EU) will have to comply with several special obligations, such as banning any targeted advertising towards children, preventing the "algorithmic amplification of disinformation," identifying advertisements clearly and explaining to users why they're seeing an ad and what data they collect. Google, TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube are among these platforms, which EU Commissioner Thierry Breton listed on April 25. He mentioned they must fully comply with these special obligations by 25 August 2023.

In this clip and several others on TikTok, far-right politician Diana Sosoaca says that, due to these rules, starting from August 25, the users of these platforms will no longer have the right to express their views freely on politics or vaccination, any opinion opposing the official governmental or EU will be banned and that all independent TV news stations will disappear, while mainstream media won't be allowed to broadcast any opposing "conspirative" opinions.

The Digital Services Act does not mention banning independent media or opinions on politics and vaccination. Political opinions are mentioned in the context of advertising, under user empowerment: "Advertisements cannot be displayed based on the sensitive data of the user (such as ethnic origin, political opinions or sexual orientation)."


  Lead Stories Staff

Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, deceptive or inaccurate stories (or media) making the rounds on the internet.

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