The European Commission has recently initiated a formal investigation into Meta’s moderation practices to determine if the tech giant is adequately addressing political content, illegal material, and disinformation on its platforms. This move comes in response to a surge in online pro-Russian propaganda leading up to the EU elections in early June.

The European Commission’s probe focuses on whether Meta has violated the Digital Services Act (DSA), a set of EU regulations aimed at creating safer online environments for users. Specifically, the investigation is looking into Meta’s handling of disinformation campaigns, coordinated inauthentic behavior, and the lack of effective third-party tools for real-time monitoring of elections and civic discourse. Of particular concern is Meta’s decision to deprecate CrowdTangle without providing an adequate replacement.

The European Commission’s investigation underscores the importance of safeguarding democratic processes from external interference. With numerous EU countries facing targeted propaganda efforts from Russia, EU leaders have called for urgent action to counter these threats. President Ursula von der Leyen emphasized the need for digital platforms like Meta to fulfill their responsibilities in combatting disinformation and manipulation, especially during election periods.

In addition to scrutinizing Meta’s handling of political content and disinformation, the investigation will also evaluate the company’s efforts in moderating deceptive advertising and reducing the visibility of political content on Facebook and Instagram. The sufficiency of mechanisms for users to flag illegal material will also be examined to ensure a safe online environment for all users.

The European Commission has not set a deadline for concluding its investigation into Meta’s practices. If Meta is found to be in violation of the DSA and fails to address the issues identified, the company could potentially face fines amounting to up to 6 percent of its annual turnover. EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager highlighted the risks associated with deceptive advertising and emphasized the importance of ensuring trust in online content to preserve informed debate and protect consumer and citizen rights.

Overall, the European Commission’s investigation into Meta’s moderation practices reflects a growing concern over the role of tech companies in shaping public discourse and safeguarding democratic processes. As online platforms continue to play a significant role in disseminating information, addressing issues related to disinformation and illegal content is crucial for maintaining the integrity of online spaces and upholding democratic values.


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