Elon Musk’s X faces EU investigation over suspected Hamas-Israel disinformation

The European Union is launching an investigation into Elon Musk’s social media platform, X, formerly known as Twitter.

NEW DELHI | Updated: 13 October, 2023 1:50 pm IST
A grab showing Musk and Musk-owned social media platform X.

NEW DELHI: The European Union is launching an investigation into Elon Musk’s social media platform, X, formerly known as Twitter, over concerns about the potential spread of terrorist, violent content, and hate speech following Hamas’ attack on Israel.

Musk’s X is now under heightened scrutiny in the European Union as regulators seek answers regarding “illegal” and potentially “terrorist” content on the platform. The European Commission issued a formal request for information, focusing on indications of potential terrorist and violent content.

X has received a one-week ultimatum, until October 18, to respond to regulators’ questions about the activation and functioning of its crisis-response protocol. Additional responses to other queries are required by October 31, according to a news release from the commission.

EU Vice President, Vera Jourova, explained in a post on X that the formal request for information is a step towards understanding the measures X is taking to ensure online safety.

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This move comes after EU’s internal market commissioner Thierry Breton set a 24-hour deadline for X owner Elon Musk to address allegations that the platform was neglecting notices of illegal content related to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

In a letter posted on the social platform earlier in the week, Breton reminded Musk of his obligation to enforce “very precise” content moderation measures under the EU’s Digital Services Act. X could face fines if it provides the commission with “incorrect, incomplete, or misleading information,” according to the press release. X’s spokespeople have not responded to an email seeking comment.

The spokesman for the US National Security Council, John Kirby, expressed gratitude that X removed some disinformation related to the attack on Israel.

On Thursday, ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok was added to a growing list of leading social media players, including Meta Platforms Inc., that Breton has been warning to take prompt action to stop the spread of disinformation.

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Social media companies are now mandated by the new law to hire more content moderators and implement risk mitigation methods to reduce the spread of harmful content. Non-compliance could result in fines as high as 6 per cent of annual revenue or even a ban from the bloc for repeated rule violations.

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