EU Gives Musk 24 Hours to Respond to Accusations of Disinformation in Twitter about Israeli War

Wednesday, 11 October 2023

Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for Internal Market, has called on Elon Musk to combat the spread of disinformation on his Twitter (X) platform following the Hamas attack on Israel in order to comply with new EU rules on online content. 

As Reuters reported, Breton wrote in a letter to Musk that he had evidence that the platform was being used to spread illegal content and disinformation in the European Union. 

He did not provide details about the disinformation he was referring to.

"I therefore invite you to urgently ensure that your systems are effective and report on the crisis measures taken to my team," Breton said.

In response, Musk said that his company's policy is to keep everything open and transparent.

"Please list the violations you allude to on X, so that the public can see them," Musk posted on X.

"You are well aware of your users' — and authorities'— reports on fake content and glorification of violence. Up to you to demonstrate that you walk the talk," Breton responded to Musk on X.

Online content regulations known as the Digital Services Act (DSA) require Twitter (X) and other major platforms to remove illegal content and take steps to address risks to public safety and civil discourse.

"Given the urgency, I also expect you to be in contact with the relevant law enforcement authorities and Europol, and ensure that you respond promptly to their requests. I urge you to ensure a prompt, accurate and complete response to this request within the next 24 hours," Breton said.

The European Union could fine Twitter (X) up to 6% of the company's global turnover for failing to comply with the DSA.

On 26 September, European Commission Vice-President Věra Jourová called on tech giants, including Elon Musk's Twitter (X), to take more responsibility for combating the spread of Russian disinformation.

A study published by the European Commission in early September found that Elon Musk's X (formerly Twitter) played an important role in allowing Russian propaganda about Ukraine to reach more people than before the full-scale war.

The EU Digital Services Act, which came into force for the largest social networks on 25 August, requires major platforms to assess the risk of spreading false information, prevent the worst from being promoted through algorithms, and subject their activities to audit.

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