March 27, 2024
X Faces European Commission Inquiry Over Hamas-Linked Content and Digital Services
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European Commission Launches Formal Probe Into X’s Handling of Hamas-Related Content

The European Commission has announced the initiation of formal proceedings to investigate X, previously known as Twitter, concerning content related to the terrorist group Hamas’ attacks on Israel. In a notice dated December 18, the commission disclosed its intention to evaluate whether X breached the Digital Services Act in its handling of misinformation and illicit content on the platform. The investigation focuses on the effectiveness of X’s Community Notes, comments attached to specific tweets to provide context, and its policies addressing risks to civic discourse and electoral processes.

The notice stated, “The opening of formal proceedings empowers the Commission to take further enforcement steps, such as interim measures, and non-compliance decisions.” It also highlighted the Commission’s authority to consider any commitments made by X to address the issues under investigation. The inquiry will extend to X’s blue check mark system, referred to by the commission as a “suspected deceptive design” on the platform. Additionally, the European Commission pointed out “suspected shortcomings” in X’s efforts to enhance the transparency of the platform’s publicly available data.

Elon Musk, the owner of X, implemented controversial policies at the social media giant following his acquisition of Twitter in 2022. These changes, including the reduction of Twitter’s trust and safety team, a decrease in content moderators, and the replacement of the blue check verification system, drew criticism from longstanding users and tech industry experts. Following the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, Musk utilized his personal account to promote antisemitic content in response to a tweet endorsing far-right conspiracy theories. In November, Media Matters released a report revealing that advertisements on X for major firms could be featured alongside pro-Nazi content under specific search conditions.

In a November 29 interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin, Musk, then-CEO, responded to advertisers leaving the platform by telling them to “go f— yourself,” expressing concern that the exodus would “kill the company.” Despite the controversy, X asserted itself as “the platform for free speech” and filed a lawsuit against Media Matters, claiming that the group’s report did not accurately represent what a typical X user sees.

As of the publication date, Musk had not publicly commented on the European Commission’s investigation. Known in the crypto space for endorsing Dogecoin and other tokens, as well as his Bitcoin purchases while leading Tesla and SpaceX, the former Twitter CEO remains a prominent figure.

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