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EU targets Musk’s X in first illegal content probe

Photo: The Verge
Photo: The Verge

The EU targets Musk’s X in its first illegal content probe. It is the European Union’s first investigation under the Digital Services Act (DSA). It is looking into social media firm X for possible violations of duties. The investigation is partially related to posts that were made after Hamas assaults on Israel.

The Digital Security Act (DSA) went into effect in November of the previous year, and it mandates that massive online platforms and search engines take further measures to combat unlawful material and threats to public safety.

The European Commission has stated that the investigation would concentrate on preventing the spread of illicit content within the European Union (EU) and evaluating the efficiency of the measures implemented to combat information manipulation, such as the “community notes” system.

X introduced its “Community Notes” function before the beginning of this year. Users can comment on posts to report inaccurate or misleading information, thereby crowdsourcing fact-checking to users rather than relying on a dedicated team of fact-checkers. In addition, the investigation will look at several elements of the company’s operations, such as the data access that X gives researchers.

As a result of Elon Musk, the site’s owner, taking actions that restrict access to the network, researchers in the field of social media have canceled, suspended, or altered more than one hundred studies about X, formerly known as Twitter, according to Reuters’ report from the previous month.

“The step that we are taking today does not find X guilty of an infringement or conclude that X has actually infringed the DSA but merely states that we have significant ground to investigate these areas in detail,” a senior European Union official stated.

According to a statement released Monday, X has not wavered in its dedication to complying with the DSA and is actively participating in the regulatory process. “It is important that this process remain free of political influence and follow the law,” the statement stated.

As a result of the strikes that Hamas carried out on Israel on October 7, X, which was then known as Twitter, along with other social media platforms, were inundated with false photos and information that was deceptive.

The head of the European Union’s industry, Thierry Breton, wrote letters to X, Meta (META.O), TikTok, and Alphabet (GOOGL.O) to remind them of their responsibility under the Digital Services Act (DSA) to address content that is harmful and unlawful.

In response, the platforms highlighted the measures they have taken to prevent the spread of disinformation on their platforms; nonetheless, Musk questioned Breton over the disinformation claim.

Following the DSA, X is one of several significant technology businesses subject to enhanced monitoring. Regarding the DSA, only X has received a formal request for information up to this point.

Lawmakers in Italy backed Musk while criticizing the European Union Commission. Throughout the weekend, Musk had been in Rome, where he delivered a speech at a party organized by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

“@elonmusk is right: ‘Freedom of speech only makes sense if it allows people you don’t like to say the things you don’t like,'” tweeted Matteo Salvini, the deputy prime minister of Italy and the far-right leader.

According to the Commission, it has stated that it will now carry out a thorough investigation, which will entail issuing more information requests, conducting interviews, and carrying out inspections.

Furthermore, it will examine the actions taken by X to enhance transparency and Blue Verify subscriptions, as stated in the statement.

An examination of a report that X filed in September, X’s transparency report that was released in November, and X’s responses to a formal request for information concerning unlawful content in connection with Hamas’ assaults on Israel have all been included in the preliminary inquiry that has been done thus far, according to the Commission.

Under the DSA, additional regulations regarding material moderation, user privacy, and transparency are imposed. Any company in violation is subject to a punishment that might be as high as 6% of its global revenue.

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