Updated Oct 12, 2023 - Politics & Policy

EU investigating X over disinformation on Israel-Hamas war

The logo of X, formerly known as Twitter, is displayed on a screen. Photo: by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The European Commission announced an investigation into X on Thursday over allegations that the platform spread disinformation about the war between Hamas and Israel.

The big picture: Misinformation and disinformation about the conflict could amplify political divisions globally, as false and misleading reports have multiplied online in the wake of escalating fighting in the region.

  • The European Commission is making efforts to crack down on such circulation, reminding X, Meta and TikTok this week about the platforms' obligations under the Digital Services Act, which imposes a number of requirements on social media companies.

Driving the news: The commission is investigating the platform formerly known as Twitter for compliance with a new European Union law in regard to illegal content, complaint handling, risk assessment and measures to mitigate the risks identified, per an EC statement.

Context: The request for information comes after the commission sent X a letter Tuesday, reminding the platform of its obligation under the Digital Services Act.

  • Elon Musk responded to EU regulatory commissioner Thierry Breton on X Tuesday, saying: "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."
  • Before announcing the investigation Thursday, Breton said the commission received a response to its letter from X and that an enforcement team would analyze next steps.

Separately, Breton announced the commission sent a similar letter to TikTok Thursday, saying the agency has indications the platform "is being used to disseminate illegal content and disinformation" following Hamas' attack.

  • "TikTok has a particular obligation to protect children & teenagers from violent content & terrorist propaganda —as well as death challenges & potentially life-threatening content," Brenton said in an online post.
  • The EC also sent a letter to Meta on Wednesday, reminding the parent company of Facebook and Instagram of its obligation for mitigation measures in the face of misinformation.

What they're saying: A Meta spokesperson said in an emailed statement Thursday evening that the company responded to the letter, and that it established a "special operations center" after Hamas' attack early Saturday.

  • Experts including those fluent in Hebrew and Arabic were assigned "to closely monitor and respond" to the situation.
  • Representatives for X and TikTok did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Go deeper: Watchdog accuses X again of not moderating hate speech

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from a Meta spokesperson.

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