In light of recent conflicts in the Middle East, particularly the Hamas attack on Israel, the European Union (EU) has ramped up its oversight of major online platforms, issuing formal requests for information to both Meta and TikTok. The focus of this scrutiny revolves around the potential spread of illegal content and misinformation on these platforms.
The European Commission’s request to Meta zeroes in on the platform’s actions surrounding the amplification of illegal content and misinformation during the Israel-Hamas conflict. The Commission has also raised concerns about Meta’s measures to ensure the integrity of elections.
TikTok Under the Lens
The inquiry into TikTok centers on its endeavors to counteract the spread of terrorist content, violent material, and hate speech. The EU is particularly interested in understanding TikTok’s compliance with online child protection measures. Beyond these concerns, there is added emphasis on TikTok’s steps to curb the spread of misinformation and unauthorized content related to the Israel-Hamas skirmish.
Elon Musk’s ‘X’ in the Mix
The EU’s rigorous examination of online content isn’t limited to just Meta and TikTok. Last week, the Commission initiated a similar inquiry into Elon Musk’s social media platform, X, previously known as Twitter.
Digital Services Act: A New Age of Online Oversight
The Digital Services Act (DSA) stands at the forefront of this new EU endeavor to keep digital giants in check. Platforms with more than 45 million monthly European users, including Meta and TikTok, are now bound by the DSA’s regulations. Not complying could have severe repercussions, with fines amounting to as much as six percent of a company’s global revenue. The EU’s top tech enforcer, Thierry Breton, has already sent warning letters to tech bigwigs, urging them to clamp down on illicit content.
Implications and Consequences
Amidst geopolitical tensions, the online space is rife with misleading information. Fact-checkers from AFP have discovered numerous posts across platforms such as Facebook, TikTok, and X that promote fabricated documents or misrepresent footage from unrelated events as being linked to the recent Middle East conflicts.
Given these events, there’s a growing apprehension about disinformation’s impact on the EU. Breton has voiced concerns about the potential for misinformation to stigmatize communities, destabilize democratic structures, and expose children to violent content.
The EU’s concentrated efforts to challenge and scrutinize Big Tech in relation to content moderation are evident. The introduction of regulations such as the DSA indicates a shift towards a more proactive approach in managing and overseeing digital content. While the immediate focus is on recent geopolitical events, the larger implications of these measures will shape the future of content moderation on major platforms in the region.