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EU Probes Social Media Giant X Over Disinformation and User Interface Concerns

2023.12.19

 

Key Takeaways

  • The EU investigates X for potential violations of the Digital Services Act.
  • X faces scrutiny over handling disinformation and design of its verification system.

EU’s First Probe Under Digital Services Act

The European Union has initiated infringement proceedings against social media platform X, once known as Twitter, marking a significant move under the Digital Services Act (DSA). The probe, led by EU regulator Thierry Breton, addressed concerns over X’s transparency and its approach to curbing illegal content and disinformation, particularly focusing on its user verification process, known as the “blue checks.”

 

In response to the EU’s action, X, under the leadership of Elon Musk, issued a statement reiterating its commitment to comply with the DSA. The company emphasized its dedication to fostering a safe and inclusive platform while upholding free speech. It also stressed the importance of a non-political, lawful regulatory process.

Focus of the Investigation

The European Commission’s investigation stems from X’s risk assessment report and transparency report, alongside its responses to formal requests for information. The probe primarily centered on X’s efforts to limit the spread of illegal content within the EU, tackle information manipulation, and enhance transparency, particularly regarding the blue check marks indicating verified accounts.

X’s Blue Checks Under Scrutiny

The investigation will scrutinize the alleged “deceptive design” of X’s user interface, with a focus on the platform’s verification system. X asserted that the blue checks are for accounts that meet specific criteria, including an active X Premium subscription and adherence to guidelines against platform manipulation and spam.

Potential Consequences and Continued Investigation

Under the DSA, companies like X could face fines up to 6% of their global annual revenues for non-compliance. The European Commission will continue gathering evidence, noting the lack of a legal deadline for concluding formal proceedings.

 

This probe came after a warning issued by Breton to major social media platforms, including X, Meta, and TikTok, regarding vigilance over disinformation and violent content related to the Israel-Hamas conflict. The EU’s actions reflected a heightened focus on regulating online platforms to balance free expression with the need to control harmful content.

 


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