A European regulator has recently issued a compelling warning to Elon Musk, highlighting concerns over the spread of illegal content and disinformation on X (formerly known as Twitter). This comes at a critical time amid the Israel-Hamas conflict. The European commissioner for the internal market, Thierry Breton, wrote a stern letter to Musk expressing his “indications” that certain groups are disseminating misguiding information and “violent and terrorist” content on the platform. Breton urgently requested a response from Musk within a 24-hour period, emphasizing the potential consequences of non-compliance with European regulations.
Regulations surrounding illegal content are not to be taken lightly. Failure to abide by these European regulations could result in fines worth a substantial 6% of a company’s annual revenue. The seriousness of this matter should not be overlooked by Musk or any other platform that wishes to operate within the European Union.
Breton draws attention to the recently enacted legislation, the Digital Services Act (DSA), established by the European Commission. This act requires platforms with more than 45 million monthly active users in the EU to actively monitor, remove illegal content, and provide clear details regarding their content moderation protocols. X, being a significant player in the platform space, falls directly under the scope of this act.
Addressing Musk directly, Breton emphasizes the importance of transparency and clarity regarding permissible content on X. The commissioner highlights that X must diligently enforce its own policies while adhering to the specific obligations set forth by the DSA. Recent “changes in public interest policies” have caused widespread confusion among users in Europe. Breton seemingly alludes to a tweak made by X to its public interest policy, which influences the company’s decision to allow certain posts to remain visible despite violating policy rules.
Breton’s letter also addresses the prevalence of fake and manipulated images, as well as misleading facts circulating on X within the EU. Public media outlets and civil society organizations have widely reported instances of repurposed old images from unrelated armed conflicts and military footage from video games being falsely presented as real content on the platform. This deliberate manipulation of information only serves to amplify confusion among users and further undermines the credibility of X.
Elon Musk and X are now facing a critical situation where they must take appropriate action to combat the spread of illegal content and disinformation on their platform. Failure to comply with European regulations may result in severe financial penalties. The demands for transparency, consistency, and diligent enforcement of policies made by the European Union should not be underestimated. It is now incumbent upon X and its leadership, including Elon Musk, to address these concerns promptly and effectively to ensure a safe and trustworthy platform for users all across Europe.