In an open letter to EU internal markets commissioner Thierry Breton, Linda Yaccarino, the CEO of X (formerly Twitter), defended the platform’s response to the alleged surge of disinformation and harmful content following Hamas’ attack on Israel. Yaccarino explained that X has redistributed resources and refocused teams to manage the flow of information regarding the conflict 24/7. She claimed that a dedicated leadership group had been assembled immediately after the incursion to devise a platform-wide strategy.
As a result of these efforts, tens of thousands of posts and other media related to the conflict have been removed since Saturday. In addition, hundreds of accounts allegedly connected to terrorist groups, extremism, and violence have been deplatformed. Yaccarino emphasized that there is no place on X for terrorist organizations or violent extremist groups, and they continue to remove such accounts, including proactively monitoring and taking action in real-time.
Yaccarino’s response came after Breton warned X of potential penalties and investigations under the EU’s new Digital Services Act if they did not address the alleged illegal content and disinformation on the platform regarding the Israel-Gaza conflict. Breton’s urgent open letter demanded a response from billionaire Elon Musk, who owns the fact-checking platform Community Notes that has gained popularity as an alternative to mainstream fact-checkers.
Yaccarino highlighted that more than 700 Community Notes are circulating regarding the conflict, and these annotations are being published faster than ever before. While acknowledging the urgent nature of Breton’s concerns, Yaccarino assured that X is responding promptly to requests from law enforcement, although they had not received any from Europol at the time of writing.
Breton claimed to have indications that X was being used to spread disinformation and illegal content but did not provide specific examples or violations in his letter. Musk repeatedly requested examples but was met with hesitation from Breton, who claimed that the Tesla CEO was already aware of complaints regarding fake content and glorification of violence on the platform.
X’s Safety division revealed that the platform has seen an increase in daily active users in Israel and Palestine and is specifically targeting new Hamas-affiliated accounts for removal through a partnership with the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism.
In addition to addressing X, Breton also reached out to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg with a similar urgent letter, giving him 24 hours to provide a detailed description of how his platform is addressing the spread of disinformation and illegal content regarding the Israel-Hamas war.
Both X and Meta are facing scrutiny and pressure to combat the alleged spread of disinformation and illegal content surrounding the Israel-Gaza conflict. The ongoing situation highlights the challenges faced by social media platforms in handling sensitive and potentially harmful content while balancing the principles of free speech and user safety.