A senior European Union (EU) official has called for stricter enforcement of “disinformation” regulations on X (formerly Twitter) and warned that Elon Musk, the owner of the platform, could face penalties if terrorist content is allowed to circulate. EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton sent an urgent letter to Musk, reminding him of the precise obligations outlined in the EU’s internet regulation laws. Breton raised concerns about the dissemination of illegal content and disinformation on X related to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants.
While Breton did not provide specific examples of violent and terrorist content on the platform, he stated that public media and civil society organizations had reported numerous cases of fake and manipulated images, including repurposed photos from unrelated conflicts and footage that originated from video games.
Breton called for a prompt, accurate, and complete response from Musk’s team within 24 hours, emphasizing that penalties could be imposed if X does not comply with the EU’s primary internet regulation, the Digital Services Act (DSA). The DSA allows for fines of up to 6% of global turnover for websites and search engines found in violation of the rules. Although the law will not be fully enforced until early 2024, very large online platforms like X, with more than 45 million monthly users, were expected to meet the requirements starting in August.
In response to the letter, Musk took to social media, asking Breton to list the violations so that the public could see them. He reiterated that X’s policy is based on open source and transparency, which he believes aligns with the EU’s values.
Breton did not provide specific cases of misinformation but asserted that Musk is well aware of the reports on fake content and glorification of violence submitted by users and authorities.
The recent conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants, triggered by Hamas’s attacks on Israeli towns, has led to a violent escalation. The Israel Defense Forces have responded with airstrikes on Gaza, which continued into Tuesday night. Local officials have reported almost 2,000 fatalities and thousands of injuries on all sides of the conflict since Saturday.
While the EU urges stricter enforcement of disinformation regulations on X, this situation highlights the challenges platforms face in combating the spread of false information and managing content related to ongoing conflicts. The EU’s focus on holding platform owners accountable for illegal content reflects its commitment to ensuring a safe and regulated online environment. As the conflict in the Middle East continues, the issue of disinformation and illegal content remains a critical concern for governments and regulatory bodies worldwide.