Twitter Fined In Italy For Ad Ban Breach

March 15, 2024
The Italian Communications Authority (AGCOM) has fined the social network formerly known as Twitter €1.35m for violating the country’s advertising ban.

The Italian Communications Authority (AGCOM) has fined the social network formerly known as Twitter €1.35m for violating the country’s advertising ban.

Regulatory officials also ordered the removal of several pieces of content on the social media platform now known as X, as well as a ban on access to accounts named "500 Casino" and "Bet Club".

"Starting from August 2, 2022, until May 2, 2023," as stated in the resolution, "several complaints were received by the Authority reporting alleged violations of Article 9 of the Dignity Decree, through the video-sharing platform 'Twitter'." 

The authority said it found that a large number of gambling sites with cash prizes were promoted through videos on 20 different Twitter accounts. 

This was done by streaming gaming sessions on slot machines or video lottery terminals, or through promotional images of gambling sites, as well as hyperlinks directly linking to gambling sites with cash prizes, AGCOM said.

In some cases, either in the form of reviews or by publishing hyperlinks, tweets illustrated methods for accessing gambling sites with cash prizes, bonuses and payment systems that could be used to deposit and withdraw winnings. 

In many cases, the offending accounts sported a "blue tick" that signalled them as accounts "verified" by X.

According to the information provided, "the blue tick means that: an account has an active subscription to the new Twitter Blue service and complies with the eligibility criteria, or the account was verified according to the previous verification criteria”, AGCOM said.

The regulator also noted that the blue tick is awarded, following verification by the Twitter team, to accounts with monthly or yearly subscriptions that meet specific eligibility criteria, including complete profile information, active usage, security and truthfulness. 

Furthermore, tweets from verified accounts enjoy priority rankings in conversations and searches, the ability to customise tweets by adding bold and italic text, and the ability to publish longer videos and uploads of videos at 1080p resolution.

The fine for Twitter is just the latest in a string of penalties for big tech companies accused of violating Italy’s total gambling ad ban.

Just a few days ago, AGCOM had imposed a fine of €450,000 on technology giant Google for other violations of the Dignity Decree. 

AGCOM also fined Top Ads €1.6m for distributing content violating the ban on Spike's channels on various platforms such as Twitch, Telegram and TikTok. 

The highest fine so far was imposed in December on Meta, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram: €5.8m for repeated violations of the law. 

A significant legal challenge for all online platforms will take place in May 2024, when the Italian Council of State is expected to decide on whether hosting providers are merely providing a virtual space where users can upload their content or if they are responsible for what is posted on their services.

In an interview to the Italian press, AGCOM board member Massimiliano Capitanio stated: “I would certainly like to see greater cooperation from these platforms, which should adopt more stringent policies to prevent the spread of practices that, very often, are in clear violation of the law.”

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