Elon Musk's X will be investigated by EU for potentially breaking disinformation law

5 months ago 112
Elon Musk

It's official: Elon Musk's X, formerly Twitter, will be investigated by the EU Commission for allegedly violating laws concerning illegal content, advertising, and disinformation on big tech platforms. 

The EU announced it was opening "formal proceedings" on Monday "to assess whether X may have breached the Digital Services Act (DSA) in areas linked to risk management, content moderation, dark patterns, advertising transparency and data access for researchers."

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In addition to the announcement on its website, EU Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton also posted about the opening of the investigation on X. 

Here's what the EU is going to look into at X

According to the EU announcement, the investigation into X will focus on a few specific areas. 

The EU investigation will look into "the dissemination of illegal content in the EU" and what content moderation measures X has taken to deal with this content. This will likely cover misinformation as well as hate speech issues regarding content on X and how the company responds to such content when it's reported.

The inquiry will also look into measures taken by X to "combat information manipulation on the platform." The EU specifically notes that it will look into the effectiveness of X's "Community Notes" system, the platform's crowd-sourced fact-checking feature.

The announcement also says that as part of the proceedings, the EU will look into transparency issues from X, such as "shortcomings" involving researchers' ability to access data on X. Mashable has previously reported on the company's API pricing changes under Musk and how that has greatly diminished the ability to conduct studies on the platform.

Furthemore, the EU will look into transparent surrounding X's ads repository as well as "deceptive design of the user interface." The EU specifically mentions verification checkmarks, aka blue checks, and how it's linked to X's paid subscription service. This will likely look into whether Musk's changes that allowed anyone to "buy" a blue check via an $8 per month subscription has caused confusion on the platform as these badges were initially used to confirm a notable user was indeed who they claimed to be.

This investigation was months in the making

Musk has previously sparred with Breton on the platform over Breton's previous posts about a potential investigation. In early October, shortly after Hamas' October 7 attack in Israel and Israel's bombing of Gaza, Breton warned X about a potential EU investigation due to the influx of misinformation spreading on the platform. Musk responded to Breton at the time, demanding that the EU lay the issue out in public on X instead of going through the investigation. 

However, while Musk argued with Breton publicly, X CEO Linda Yaccarino did respond to the EU with a letter outlining what X alleges it has done to deal with its disinformation issues. 

Apparently, that response did not curtail the EU's concerns as it followed up with a formal request to X for information regarding the issue in mid-October. Breton, at the time, called this the "first step in our investigation to determine compliance with the DSA."

The DSA went into effect this year in the EU and deems that "Very Large Online Platforms," which include tech giants like Meta and X, are legally responsible for harmful or illegal content that users post to their platforms.

Musk, for his part, has reportedly hinted before that he'd pull X out of the EU entirely instead of complying with the DSA. With the EU investigation now official and a potential for X to be hit with hefty fines as a result closer to reality, Musk will likely share his more concrete plans soon.

Will Musk comply or will he send a message to the EU like the one he sent to advertisers fleeing his platform: "Go fuck yourself." We'll likely soon find out.

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