The European Union (EU) has initiated an investigation into X, formerly known as Twitter, over allegations of spreading hate speech, disinformation, and other illegal content on its platform. In response, X will be required to demonstrate its compliance with EU law.
On Thursday, the European Commission announced that it had submitted a formal request for information to X under the Digital Services Act (DSA), a comprehensive internet regulation in the EU. The Commission stated that it had received indications of the alleged dissemination of illegal content, disinformation, terrorist and violent content, as well as hate speech on the platform.
While the statement did not explicitly mention the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict, EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton previously highlighted a surge in disinformation following the recent terrorist attacks by Hamas against Israel. Last weekend, Hamas launched a major assault, resulting in retaliatory airstrikes by the Israeli military.
In a letter addressed to X owner Elon Musk, Commissioner Breton warned that the platform could face penalties if it violates the DSA. He further demanded a written response within 24 hours. X CEO Linda Yaccarino defended the platform’s policies in an open letter to the EU, emphasizing that significant resources had been allocated and teams refocused to manage posts related to the Israel conflict. Yaccarino stated that tens of thousands of posts and hundreds of accounts allegedly linked to terrorist groups or extremism had been removed since the escalation of the conflict.
The EU has also reached out to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in an “urgent” letter, giving him 24 hours to provide a detailed description of how his platforms are addressing the spread of disinformation and illegal content regarding the Israel-Hamas war.
Under EU regulations, websites and search engines can be fined up to 6% of their global turnover for violations. Although the law will not be fully enforced until early 2024, “very large online platforms” with over 45 million monthly users, including X, are expected to meet the requirements starting in August.
The EU’s investigation into X and its request for information is part of a broader effort to combat the dissemination of illegal content and disinformation online. As online platforms play an increasingly influential role in shaping public opinion and discourse, it is crucial to ensure that they adhere to laws and regulations that promote safety, transparency, and responsible communication.
By holding platforms accountable for their actions and requiring them to comply with regulations, the EU aims to foster a digital environment that upholds fundamental values and protects users from harmful content.