Europe investigating Elon Musk’s X about Israel-Hamas misinformation

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A European regulator said Thursday that it sent a formal request to X, formerly known as Twitter, to obtain information related to the spread of illegal content and disinformation on the service amid the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Thierry Breton, the European commissioner for the internal market, said on X that the European Union’s executive arm, the European Commission, is investigating whether X is complying with the Digital Services Act.

The DSA “is here to protect both freedom of expression & our democracies — including in times of crisis,” Breton wrote.

The act went into effect in late August, requiring platforms that have over 45 million monthly active users in the EU to scan for and remove illegal content from their services and to detail their methodologies. Failure to comply with the DSA could result in fines totaling 6% of a company’s annual revenue.

Breton sent a letter to X owner Elon Musk expressing concern about the spread of disinformation and “violent and terrorist” content on the service and urging Musk to respond within 24 hours time. Breton sent Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg a similar letter on Wednesday about disinformation on Facebook “to ensure that your systems are effective.”

The EC said in a statement about its formal request to X that it’s investigating the company’s compliance with the DSA, focusing on “its policies and practices regarding notices on illegal content, complaint handling, risk assessment and measures to mitigate the risks identified.”

X must provide the relevant information on its “crisis response protocol” to the EC by Oct. 18, and then provide other related data by Oct. 31, the EC said. The commission will then “assess next steps.”

“Following its designation as Very Large Online Platform, X is required to comply with the full set of provisions introduced by the DSA since late August 2023, including the assessment and mitigation of risks related to the dissemination of illegal content, disinformation, gender-based violence, and any negative effects on the exercise of fundamental rights, rights of the child, public security and mental well-being,” the EU’s executive arm said.

X declined to comment on the formal request for information.

Earlier on Thursday, X CEO Linda Yaccarino shared the company’s response to Breton’s warning letter.

“In response to the recent terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas, we’ve redistributed resources and refocused internal teams who are working around the clock to address this rapidly evolving situation,” the statement said.

In another X post containing X’s letter to the EC, the company said, “Since the terrorist attack on Israel, we have taken action to remove or label tens of thousands of pieces of content, while Community Notes are visible on thousands of posts, generating millions of impressions.”

“We continue to respond promptly to law enforcement requests from around the world, including EU member states,” X said in the letter. “At the time of receipt of your letter, we had not received any notices from Europol relating to illegal content on the service.”



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