EU Confronts Elon Musk Over War Disinformation on X Platform

11 October, 2023 - 2:31 pm (50 days ago)
1 min read

European officials have once again raised concerns about potential misinformation and unlawful content related to the Israeli-Hamas conflict on the platform formerly recognized as Twitter, now named X. These allegations hint at possible infringements of the EU’s distinguished content moderation law.

Top European Commissioner, Thierry Breton, addressed these concerns in a communication with the platform’s owner, Elon Musk. With X being under the purview of Europe’s Digital Services Act (DSA), any established violations could result in multi-billion fines.

It’s not just the conflict at hand that’s the issue. Dubious content linked to the war has ranged from falsified White House press releases to misleading reports and manipulated footage. Some of these changes on the platform seem to have arisen from transformations made under Musk’s watch. A key concern stemmed from X’s recent policy change allowing “high profile” accounts to bypass certain platform rules, rather than adhering to a minimum follower count. This alteration, according to Breton, has made the removal of specific content, especially those promoting violence, ambiguous.

EU’s Warning and Musk’s Response

Breton’s correspondence highlights the urgency, noting instances of possibly illegal content still being accessible on X, even after official flags. Musk, defending X’s transparency approach, challenged the EU to list down these supposed infractions for public viewing. The continued exchange emphasized the EU’s commitment to rigorously enforce DSA compliance.

Misinformation Spreads Like Wildfire

Recent investigations have further spotlighted the issue. Bellingcat, a renowned investigative journalism group, debunked a misleading video imitating a BBC News report. This falsified video claimed that Ukraine had secretly armed Hamas, an allegation that Bellingcat declared entirely untrue.

Despite its deceptive nature, X did not take down this video, opting instead to label it as “manipulated media.” This move stirred reactions, prompting the BBC to remind the public about the importance of sourcing information from credible outlets.

Musk’s leadership changes have only fueled the contention. His decisions, ranging from dismissing a significant portion of X’s content moderation team to altering the platform’s verification procedures, have been critiqued by various civil groups. They warn of the heightened risk of misinformation, especially in rapidly developing situations.

Furthermore, Musk’s actions have occasionally been at the epicenter of the turmoil. Previously, he had endorsed an account notorious for distributing false news, intensifying concerns about the platform’s reliability.

Drawing Parallels

This isn’t X’s maiden voyage through rough waters. In earlier incidents involving the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the EU had spotlighted the platform for having a substantial quotient of misleading posts.

A Platform in Question

Given the sequence of events, it’s imperative for X to redefine its content moderation strategies. It’s not just about the platform’s reputation, but also about the ripple effect misinformation can have on global events and public perceptions. The ball is now in X and Musk’s court to ensure the platform remains a trusted space for discourse in an era where credibility is paramount.

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Bilgesu Erdem

tech and internet savvy, cat lover.

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