EU Announces Formal Investigation Into X Just Hours After Linda Yaccarino Details Response To Israel-Hamas Conflict Disinformation Surge

The European Commission has sent a formal notice to Elon Musk’s X requesting information on the social media platform’s provisions to deal with illegal content, disinformation and abusive material posted on the site in the wake of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton, who announced the move on his X account on Thursday, said it marked the first step in an investigation to determine X’s compliance with the European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA).

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“The DSA is here to protect both freedom of expression & our democracies — including in times of crisis,” wrote Breton.

The request comes just two days after Breton first wrote to Musk warning him about a proliferation of disinformation and abusive content on X in the wake of Saturday’s deadly attack on Israel and gave him 24 hours to deal with it.

Breton warned that failure to act would constitute a breach of the DSA and could result in sanctions.

Earlier on Thursday, X CEO Linda Yaccarino posted a two-page response to Breton’s letter on the platform’s Global Government Affairs handle and said that X had taken action on “tens of thousands of pieces of content.”

Breton has also publicly sent similar warning letters to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew in the last two days, but no formal probes have been announced as yet.

The commissioner’s X post announcing the investigation met with a barrage of replies accusing the commissioner of censorship and attacking freedom of a speech.

A European Commission press release detailing the formal request to X said it was in response “to 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.”

“Following its designation as Very Large Online Platform, X is required to comply with the full set of provisions introduced by the DSA since late August 2023, including the assessment and mitigation of risks related to the dissemination of illegal content, disinformation, gender-based violence, and any negative effects on the exercise of fundamental rights, rights of the child, public security and mental well-being.” read the release.

The release said that the Commission services were empowered to request further information from X in order to verify its correct implementation of the law.

It said X needed to provide the requested information by October 18, 2023 for questions related to the activation and functioning of X’s crisis response protocol and by October 31, 2023 on the other questions.

The release said that the Commission would assess next steps on the basis of the replies. It noted that under the DSA, the Commission can impose fines for incorrect, incomplete or misleading information.

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