UPDATE: Walter Einenkel
X (formerly Twiter) CEO Linda Yaccarino posted a letter detailing the things they have done to address the issues brought up by Breton, including “redistributed resources and refocused internal teams” . Breton replied that they will analyze what Yaccarino sent them “and decide on next steps.”
The European Union gave Elon Musk until the end of Wednesday to respond to demands that his social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter) comply with the European Union’s Digital Services Act, known as the DSA. Thierry Breton, the European commissioner for the internal market who oversees the DSA, sent a letter to Musk (and posted it on X) on Tuesday, writing, “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.”
The letter detailed how the DSA expects Musk and other social media giants 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.” The directive made clear that Musk needs to respond to reports of disinformation on his site and “be timely, diligent and objective in taking action and removing the relevant content when warranted.”
Musk replied to the commissioner’s post, claiming, “Our policy is that everything is open source and transparent, an approach that I know the EU supports. Please list the violations you allude to on 𝕏, so that that the public can see them. Merci beaucoup.”
Thierry answered in turn, “Vu, merci. 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. My team remains at your disposal to ensure DSA compliance, which the EU will continue to enforce rigorously.”
RELATED STORY: Study: Elon Musk's X takeover helped Russian disinfo thrive
Here’s Breton’s letter:
The DSA went into effect on Aug. 25. Long before Hamas’ attack and subsequent retaliation by Israel’s military, the European Commission released a study that detailed how much disinformation and misinformation was being spread by way of Musk’s social media company. Since the Israel-Hamas war broke out, X users have seen an exponential increase in false information and entirely fabricated stories. Wired reported on the increase, writing that it is due in no small part to Musk himself.
Many of these videos and images racked up hundreds of thousands of views and engagements. While some later featured a note from X’s decimated community fact-checking system, many more remained untouched. And as Elon Musk has repeatedly done in recent incidents, the platform’s CEO made the situation much worse.
“For following the war in real-time, @WarMonitors & @sentdefender are good,” Musk wrote in a post to his 150 million followers on Sunday morning. Both the accounts Musk referenced are well-known spreaders of disinformation. For example, both accounts spread the lie that there had been an explosion near the White House in May, a story that made the US stock market briefly plummet before it was debunked.
According to Thierry’s letter, Musk’s refusal to act on this warning could result in an investigation of his social media platform. If investigators find that Musk’s company did not comply with the processes required by the DSA, there is a potential for fines of up to 6% of company revenues. Considering how poorly Musk has been running the company since taking it over and the revenue hits it has taken, there may not be much to fine poor X when all is said and done.
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