A European regulator is demanding Elon Musk censor “disinformation” and “illegal content” surrounding the Israel-Palestine war across X, the social media platform formally known as Twitter, or face sweeping financial penalties.
Thierry Bretton, the European Commissioner for the EU’s internal market, issued a stern warning to Musk for failing to adequately censor, noting refusal to comply with the European regulations pertaining to “illegal content” could result in penalties including a 6 percent reduction of the company’s annual revenue.
In an Oct. 10 letter to Musk posted on X, Breton warns his office has “indications” that groups are spreading misinformation and “violent and terrorist” content on X.
“Following the terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas against Israel, we have indications that your platform is being used to disseminate illegal content and disinformation in the EU. Let me remind you that the Digital Services Act sets very precise obligations regarding content moderation,” Breton, the 27-nation bloc’s digital enforcer, states in the letter.
“First, you need to be very transparent and clear on what content is permitted under your terms and consistently and diligently enforce your own policies. This is particularly relevant when it comes to violent and terrorist content that appears to circulate on your platform,” Bretton continued. “When you receive notices of illegal content in the EU, you must be timely, diligent and objective in taking action and removing the relevant content when warned. We have from qualified sources, reports about potentially illegal content circulating on your service despite flags from relevant authorities.”
Bretton urged Musk to respond to the ultimatum within a 24-hour period.
The misinformation violates the Digital Service Act, newly enacted legislation by the European Commission. The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, requires platforms that garner more than 45 million monthly users in the EU to monitor the platforms for “illegal” content.
On Thursday the European Commission submitted a legally binding request for information from X over its mishandling of “hate speech,” “misinformation” and “terrorist content related to the Israel-Hamas war.”
The commission gave X until Wednesday, Oct. 18 to respond to its inquiries related to how its crisis response protocol is functioning. If Musk’s San Francisco-based company fails to respond to the commission by Oct. 31, the commission warns it will open formal proceedings and penalties.
On Thursday, X CEO Linda Yaccarino outlined actions taken by X to combat so-called illegal content from being disseminated on the platform, noting X has removed hundreds of accounts linked to Hamas and taken down or labeled tens of thousands of posts since the militant group’s attack on Israel.
“X is proportionately and effectively assessing and addressing identified fake and manipulated content during this constantly evolving and shifting crisis, Yaccarino said in a letter to Breton.
Breton also called on YouTube, Facebook and TikTok to ramp up its censorship of so-called illegal content.