The EU has designated 19 online platforms, including Instagram, TikTok and Twitter, as having user numbers so big they will come under stricter regulatory rules for content, according to The Journal.
The volume of users puts the platforms under a new EU law, known as the Digital Services Act (DSA), imposing measures from August such as annual audits and a duty to effectively counter disinformation and hate content.
In four months’ time, “these platforms and search engines will not be able to act as if they were ‘too big to care’,” Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, said in a statement.
“This new supervision system will cast a wide and tight net and catch all points of failure in a platform’s compliance,” he added.
Platforms meeting the 45-million-plus threshold include Twitter, owned by US billionaire Elon Musk; Alphabet’s Google Search, Google Maps, Google Shopping and Google Play units as well as its YouTube subsidiary; and Meta’s Facebook and Instagram.
Microsoft’s LinkedIn, Apple’s iOS App Store, online encyclopedia Wikipedia, messaging app Snapchat and creative image website Pinterest are also covered under the legislation.
Under the DSA, they are categorised as a “Very Large Online Platform” (VLOP) or a “Very Large Online Search Engine” (VLOSE).
Most of the companies on the list are US-based but Chinese-owned platforms TikTok and e-commerce site AliExpress also feature.
The commission also listed German online fashion retailer Zalando.
Breton told journalists today that his team will hold “stress tests” to check Twitter’s compliance readiness at the end of June.
He added that TikTok had also expressed an interest in cooperating to ensure compliance.
The announcement follows a deadline in February for online companies to publish user figures in Europe.
The DSA has a wide range of objectives, including forcing platforms to better protect children, strengthen transparency around digital services, prohibit the sale online of unsafe goods and allow users to have greater choice when online in the EU.
The rules allow the EU to impose fines of up to six percent of the platforms’ annual global sales for repeated infringements.
By 25 August, the 19 platforms must have an independent compliance system in place and give their first annual risk assessment to the European Commission, including how they plan to handle content on mental health and gender-based violence.