The European Union has initiated an investigation into the social media platform “X,” which is owned by tech mogul Elon Musk, regarding the dissemination of disinformation and violent content pertaining to the Israel-Hamas conflict. The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, has filed a binding request for information to assess whether the platform is adhering to rules regarding illegal and harmful content.
In an official statement, the European Commission disclosed that the probe was launched in response to “indications received concerning the presumed transmission of illicit content.” As part of this investigation, X has been given a deadline of Wednesday to respond to the most urgent questions outlined in a 40-page document, and until October 31 to address less pressing requests for information.
This move comes in the wake of the Israel-Hamas conflict, during which various social media platforms, including X, have come under scrutiny for hosting violent content and spreading misinformation. This content has included footage from other conflicts and even video games. X, notably, has downsized its content moderation team under Musk’s leadership.
An EU study previously revealed that X was the worst-performing platform in combatting disinformation. Thierry Breton, often referred to as the EU’s digital “enforcer,” engaged in a public dispute with Musk, accusing X of allowing the dissemination of “violent and terrorist content.” Breton has also sent similar nonbinding warning letters to the heads of Meta, Instagram, and TikTok.
Linda Yaccarino, the Chief Executive of X, defended the platform’s record by highlighting the deletion of numerous Hamas-linked accounts and the removal or labeling of tens of thousands of pieces of harmful content.
The investigation is conducted under the EU’s Digital Services Act, which took effect in August. According to this act, platforms that fail to effectively combat illegal content can face fines of up to 6 percent of their global turnover or even be banned from operating within the EU.
Simultaneously, the Israel-Hamas conflict continues, with a seventh day marked by the Israeli army instructing over a million Palestinians in Gaza to relocate south within 24 hours in anticipation of a ground offensive. The violence has resulted in significant casualties, with over 1,500 Palestinians killed and more than 6,600 wounded due to Israeli airstrikes, while over 1,300 people have been killed and 3,000 injured by Hamas, marking one of the deadliest attacks on Israel in decades.