The European Union has issued a warning to Elon Musk’s social media platform, X (formerly known as Twitter), for failing to address the circulation of illegal content and disinformation following the recent terrorist attacks by Hamas on Israel. The European Commission has expressed concerns about the spread of false information on X regarding the attacks and their aftermath.
The European Union has warned Elon Musk’s X for its failure to tackle illegal content and disinformation related to the recent Hamas attacks. The EU’s Digital Services Act places obligations on X to combat harmful falsehoods and promptly address reports of illegal content. Failure to comply with the DSA could result in penalties and potential loss of access to the platform in the EU.
Illegal Content and Disinformation on X
Graphic videos showing terrorist attacks and false posts claiming to depict footage from the attacks have been circulating on X since the incidents occurred. Fact-checkers have identified many of these posts as misleading and unrelated to the actual events. Despite the illegality of terrorism content, disinformation itself is not prohibited in the European Union. However, under the Digital Services Act (DSA), X is obligated to mitigate risks associated with harmful falsehoods and act promptly on reports of illegal content.
The chaotic situation on X has drawn criticism, with the platform being described as drowning in disinformation related to the Israel-Hamas conflict. Even Elon Musk himself recommended following accounts that had posted antisemitic comments and false information, though he deleted the tweet afterward.
EU’s Concerns and Warning Letter to Musk
The European Commission has sent a warning to Elon Musk, addressing the indications that X is being used to spread illegal content and disinformation within the EU. In the letter, EU’s internal market commissioner Thierry Breton reminds Musk of the DSA’s obligations regarding content moderation. Breton emphasizes the need for timely and diligent action in removing illegal content and highlights concerns about X’s public interest policy, which has left many European users uncertain about how the platform applies its rules.
Potential Penalties and Compliance Issues
If X continues to fail in meeting the DSA requirements, penalties for non-compliance could reach up to 6% of the company’s global annual turnover. In extreme cases, repeated failures to correct course could lead to access to X being shut off in the EU. The EU has given Musk 24 hours to respond to their demands and has requested cooperation with relevant law enforcement authorities and Europol. Additionally, the EU has mentioned unspecified compliance issues that they will be contacting Musk’s team about shortly.
Musk’s management style and recent changes to X’s policies make it difficult to meet the EU’s regulatory requirements. Musk’s response to the EU’s warning has been relatively ambiguous, leaning towards relativism. He has indicated a desire for the public to decide for themselves about disinformation, claiming that fact-checking can lead to false statements. The EU has requested a prompt response from Musk and warned of potential consequences for non-compliance.