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Monday, July 22, 2024

EU probing X (aka Twitter) over ‘terrorist content’

The bloc previously threatened penalties if Elon Musk’s platform ignored local ‘disinformation’ regulations

The EU has launched an investigation into X (formerly Twitter) over the alleged spread of hate speech, disinformation, and other “illegal content” on the site. The social media giant will now be expected to prove it is complying with EU law.

The European Commission announced the move on Thursday, saying it had submitted a “formal request for information” to X under the EU’s sweeping internet regulation, the Digital Services Act (DSA).

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“This request follows indications received by the Commission services of the alleged spreading of illegal content and disinformation, in particular the spreading of terrorist and violent content and hate speech,” the body said.

While the statement made no mention of the ongoing Israel-Gaza war, EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton previously said the bloc had seen a spike in “disinformation” following the “terrorist attacks by Hamas against Israel” last weekend.

The Palestinian group launched a major assault on Saturday, sending waves of fighters and rockets into Israel and prompting days of retaliatory airstrikes by the Israeli military.

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In a letter addressed to X owner Elon Musk earlier this week, Breton warned that the site could face penalties should it run afoul of the DSA, and went on to demand a written response within 24 hours.

X CEO Linda Yaccarino defended the site’s policies in an open letter to the EU on Thursday, insisting the platform had “redistributed resources” and “refocused teams” to manage posts related to the conflict in Israel. She said tens of thousands of posts, as well as hundreds of accounts allegedly linked to terrorist groups or extremism, had been removed since last Saturday.

Under EU regulations, websites and search engines can be fined up to 6% of their global turnover if they are found to be in violation of the rules. However, while the law will not be fully enforced until early 2024, sites designated as “very large online platforms” – or those with more than 45 million monthly users, such as X – are expected to meet the requirements starting in August.

The bloc also reached out to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in another “urgent” letter, warning the billionaire he had 24 hours to provide a detailed description of how his platforms were addressing the spread of disinformation and “illegal content” regarding the Israel-Hamas war.