The European Union launched an investigation into Elon Musk’s X over its handling of violent content and disinformation about the war between Israel and Hamas, the bloc announced Thursday, upping pressure on social media companies to bolster moderation efforts amid increasing criticism they are not doing enough to tackle problematic content.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, said it sent a formal request to X for information on “illegal content and disinformation” allegedly spreading on the platform, particularly hate speech and terrorist and violent content.
The request is to determine whether X, which Musk acquired as Twitter last year, is complying with the new Digital Services Act (DSA), a flagship piece of tech legislation that imposes tough penalties on companies that fail to stop the spread of harmful content.
The probe marks the first step towards what could become the first formal investigation into a company’s adherence with the DSA and the EU said X has until Wednesday to answer questions relating to its “crisis response protocol.”
X will have until the end of the month to respond to other questions regarding its handling of complaints, risk assessment protocols and policies regarding illegal content.
Failure to reply or providing incorrect, incomplete or misleading information could reportedly see X fined up to 5% of its daily global turnover and DSA breaches can cost a company as much as 6% of global turnover and potentially have the platform suspended.
Musk, responding to news of the probe on X, complained the EU had still not sent the company “any examples” of disinformation or violent content alleged to be spreading on the platform.
X, alongside other social media companies like TikTok and Meta, have come under fire from officials in the EU and countries like the U.K. for not doing enough to tackle the surge of misinformation and violent content surrounding fighting between Israel and Hamas. Firms say they are working to stem the flow of disinformation and X CEO Linda Yaccarino on Thursday said the platform had removed hundreds of accounts linked to Hamas and moderated thousands of posts since fighting began. X has faced particular scrutiny over its handling of disinformation since Musk, who controversially acquired Twitter for $44 billion last year and rebranded it as X, pared back the platform’s moderation policies.
What To Watch For
The Commission said it will “assess next steps” once X has provided the information it has requested. This could result in a formal probe under the DSA to assess the platform’s compliance. The start of a formal probe, as with the request for information, would be the first since the DSA came into force.
“The DSA is here to protect both freedom of expression & our democracies — including in times of crisis,” Thierry Breton, a European Commissioner, wrote on X. Breton called the request for information “a first step in our investigation to determine compliance with the DSA.”
EU Demands TikTok Clamp Down On ‘Graphic’ Images Of Israel-Gaza Conflict (Forbes)
X Has Removed Hundreds Of Hamas-Linked Accounts, CEO Linda Yaccarino Tells EU After Threat Of Fines (Forbes)