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E.U. Takes Aim at Social Media’s Harms With Landmark New Law

The Digital Services Act would force Meta, Google and others to combat misinformation and restrict certain online ads. How European officials will wield it remains to be seen.

The European Union was nearing a deal on Friday on landmark legislation that would force Facebook, YouTube and other internet services to combat misinformation, disclose how their services amplify divisive content and stop targeting online ads based on a person’s ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.

The law, called the Digital Services Act, is intended to address social media’s societal harms by requiring companies to more aggressively police their platforms for illicit content or risk billions of dollars in fines. Tech companies would be compelled to set up new policies and procedures to remove flagged hate speech, terrorist propaganda and other material defined as illegal by countries within the European Union.

The law aims to end an era of self-regulation in which tech companies set their

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