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European Union sends letter to Elon Musk over Hamas attack disinformation

X – formerly Twitter – owner Elon Musk was issued a warning over “illegal content” on his social media platform.

user icon David Hollingworth
Wed, 11 Oct 2023
European Union sends letter to Elon Musk over Hamas attack disinformation
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Thierry Breton, the European commissioner for internal market, wrote the single-page letter to Musk overnight, reminding the billionaire businessman of his obligations under the EU’s Digital Services Act.

“Following the terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas against Israel, we have indications that your platform is being used to disseminate illegal content and disinformation in the EU,” the letter – which Breton shared on X – read.

“Let me remind you that the Digital Services Act sets very precise obligations regarding content moderation.”


Breton reminded Musk that he needs to be “transparent and clear” on the nature of what can and cannot be posted under X’s own terms of service, particularly when violent, terror-related content is being shared on the platform. The EU commissioner then reprimanded Musk over failing to remove content the EU considers to be illegal in a timely manner, before talking of the need for “proportionate and effective mitigation measures to tackle the risks to public security and civic discourse stemming from disinformation”.

“Public media and civil society organisations widely report instances of fake and manipulated images and facts circulating on your platform in the EU, such as repurposed old images of unrelated armed conflicts or military footage that actually originated from video games. This appears to be manifestly false or misleading information,” Breton said.

A number of accounts are posting footage from the video game Arma 3 and passing it off as actual footage from the ongoing conflict, according to Rolling Stone.

Finally, Breton urged Musk to ensure that X’s moderation and reporting systems are effective and to report back to the EU on the matter.

“I urge you to ensure a prompt, accurate and complete response to this request within the next 24 hours,” Breton said. “We will include your answer in our assessment file on your compliance with the DSA. I remind you that following the opening of a potential investigation and a finding of non-compliance, penalties can be imposed.”

Musk responded in a characteristically brusque manner in a tweet, claiming that X has an “open source and transparent” policy that the EU supports.

“Please list the violations you allude to on 𝕏, so that that the public can see them,” Musk also said.

Musk only recently deleted one of his tweets after recommending his 160 million followers follow a known anti-Semitic account for updates on the conflict.

Failure to comply with EU regulations could lead to a fine of 6 per cent of the company’s revenue and even a total ban in the union.

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