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EU warns Elon Musk sternly over ‘disinformation’ on X about Hamas attack against Israel

A European regulator has handed out a stern warning to Elon Musk about the spread of illegal content and disinformation on X (formerly twitter), amid the Israel-Hamas conflict. Failure to conform to the European regulations around illegal content can result in fines worth 6% of a company’s annual revenue.

Thierry Breton (the European commissioner for the internal market) alleged in a letter addressed to Musk on Tuesday that his office has “indications” that groups are disseminating misinformation and “violent and terrorist” content through X, and requested the billionaire to respond within 24-hours.

The letter comes after many researchers, news organizations and other groups have concurred that a visible rise in misleading, false and questionable content on X post terrorist attack by Hamas against Israel is creating confusion about the current conflict.

Breton shared the said letter via an X post, promptly tagging Musk’s handle and including a hashtag referring to the Digital Services Act, the freshly enacted legislation by the executive arm of the European Union (the European Commission), that needs platforms with above 45 million monthly active users in the EU to look for and take down illegal content and also detail their protocols for doing so.

He told Musk in the letter that the DSA “sets very precise obligations regarding content moderation,” and that X requires “to be very transparent and clear on what content is permitted under your terms and consistently and diligently enforce your own policies.” The commissioner stated that recent “changes in public interest policies” caused misunderstanding in “many European users.” Breton appeared to be referring to a change that X has made over the weekend to its public interest policy that empowers the company to leave some posts available for everyone to see despite violating policy rules.

The letter stated, “Public media and civil society organisations widely report instances of fake and manipulated images and facts circulating on your platform in the EU, such as repurposed old images of unrelated armed conflicts or military footage that actually originated from video games. This appears to be manifestly false or misleading information.” “I remind you that following the opening of a potential investigation and a finding of non-compliance, penalties can be imposed,” Breton warned at the end of the letter.

Tesla chief promptly responded and called on the commissioner to “list the violations”. “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,” Musk posted on X. Responding to Musk’s tweet Mr. Breton said, “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.”

 

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