Elon Musk’s X is under investigation for alleged disinformation about the Israel-Hamas conflictReading Time: 3 minutes
X was warned by EU officials about illegal content, hate speech, and disinformation spreading on the platform.
It looks like X CEO Linda Yaccarino’s statement wasn’t enough to convince the European Commission (EU) that the company was adequately addressing hate speech, violent content, and disinformation on the platform.
On Thursday, the EU officially requested that X send information to the institution as part of its investigation of the platform’s alleged Digital Services Act (DSA) infractions. Under the law that recently went into effect, big-tech companies that have millions of users are designated as ‘Very Large Online Platforms.’ Consequently, companies like Google, Meta, and in this case, X, are legally responsible for the content that’s posted to its platforms.
‘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,’ reads the European Commission’s statement. ‘In this particular case, the Commission services are investigating X’s compliance with the DSA, including with regard to its policies and actions regarding notices on illegal content, complaint handling, risk assessment and measures to mitigate the risks identified.’
According to the Financial Times, this is the DSA’s first formal investigation.
EU Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton warned X owner Elon Musk earlier this week that the social media platform could potentially be investigated for breaking EU law. Disinformation, hate speech, and graphic images of violence have been pervasive across X, but the Israel-Hamas conflict ostensibly exacerbated these issues. While this sort of content is not unique to any one social media platform, X has been criticized for inaction.
After the warning, Musk responded to Breton on X, demanding the European official publicly debate what, exactly, the company is in violation of. Yaccarino, Musk’s handpicked CEO, took Breton’s open letter a bit more seriously and responded by providing an overview of what X has done to address the recent deluge of content that could potentially break EU law.
While Yaccarino’s letter was a bit vague on details and specifics, she did claim that X removed ‘tens of thousands of pieces of content.’ However, as the letter continued, it also became clear that X’s policy was to leave most of the platform’s moderation up to its own users via the Community Notes feature. Community Notes allows X users accepted into the program to add context to other user’s posts. The community then rates notes to determine whether they’re displayed on the platform.
One problem with the Community Notes method of moderation is how long it takes for a note to be added to a post. Yaccarino confirmed that X recently worked on speeding up the Community Notes process, revealing that context is usually added to posts a median of five hours after they’re published.
As The Verge points out, if X is found to be violating the DSA, the EU could impose fines on the company as large as up to 6 percent of the company’s global revenue.
X has until Oct. 18 to provide the European Commission with information regarding the platform’s ‘crisis response protocol’ — and until the end of the month to fully address the entire request. From there, the EU will decide whether to go ahead with the ‘formal opening of proceedings’ under the DSA.
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