In light of the recent Hamas attack on Israel, the European Union has intensified its scrutiny of social media platforms, with particular attention directed towards Meta, the tech giant behind Facebook and Instagram. European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, expressed serious concerns over the spread of disinformation and illegal content.
Breton’s outreach was not exclusive to Meta. The tech mogul Elon Musk, owner of X (previously Twitter), also received a letter from the EU highlighting concerns about the misuse of his platform to disseminate potentially damaging content following the abrupt attacks.
The Digital Services Act (DSA) Looms
The Digital Services Act (DSA), recently instituted by the European Union, is playing a pivotal role in the current discourse. The legislation mandates tech companies like Meta to actively monitor and expunge illegal content, such as terrorist propaganda or hate speech. The onus is also on these platforms to clearly delineate their protocols for ensuring compliance. With stakes high, non-compliance could result in exorbitant fines, equating to 6% of a company’s annual revenue.
In response to the EU’s concerns, Meta conveyed that they have instated a “special operations center” manned by experts, including individuals proficient in Hebrew and Arabic. This team’s main role is to closely monitor the situation, ensuring the removal of content that breaches their policies or local laws. Collaborative efforts are also underway with third-party fact-checkers in the region to counteract the spread of misinformation.
Electoral Disinformation: A Growing Concern
In addition to worries stemming from the Israel-Hamas conflict, the European Commission has spotlighted potential disinformation targeting European elections. Breton remarked on his prior discussions with Meta about these concerns and commended the company for its efforts leading up to the Slovakian elections. Nonetheless, the presence of deep fakes and manipulated content on Meta’s platforms remains an alarming issue.
Emphasizing the gravity of the situation, Breton stressed the DSA’s stipulation to tackle the risk of such manipulated content, particularly when designed to sway electoral outcomes. He further pressed for immediate responses detailing actions to confront deep fakes, especially in light of impending elections across multiple European nations.
A Broader Picture
Amid rising concerns about deep fakes, the EU is casting a wider net, seeking collaborations with entities like AI giant OpenAI. The potential of social media platforms to quickly spread these artificially created pieces of information is undeniably on the EU’s watchlist.
Ripples Across the Tech World
While the consequences of these discussions and warnings remain to be seen, the overarching sentiment is clear: In our interconnected digital age, tech giants must assume greater responsibility, especially when global events and politics intermingle. As the lines between information and disinformation blur, the role of these platforms in preserving the integrity of global narratives has never been more crucial.