In response to concerns raised by EU commissioner Thierry Breton regarding the spread of illegal content and disinformation on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, CEO Linda Yaccarino has assured that the company has taken swift action. Yaccarino stated that X has identified and removed “hundreds” of Hamas-affiliated accounts and has also “taken action to remove or label tens of thousands of pieces of content” related to terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas against Israel.

The back-and-forth between X and the European Union comes as the EU implements the Digital Services Act (DSA), which imposes obligations on large online platforms to remove illegal content and ensure public security. X is not the only platform being addressed by the EU; Breton has also written to Meta, reminding them of their obligations under the DSA.

Numerous reports have surfaced regarding the spread of misinformation and disinformation on X during the Israel-Hamas war. The Guardian has collected examples of content with millions of views, including videos and images being shared out of context. Additionally, researchers claim to have discovered a network of 67 accounts actively spreading false and inflammatory content about the conflict.

X is facing intensified scrutiny due to the changes made under Elon Musk’s ownership. The company has seen significant reductions in its moderation teams, previously-banned accounts reinstated, the verification system altered, and the dissolution of the platform’s Trust and Safety Council. Two heads of trust and safety have also left the company. Furthermore, Musk himself recommended following two accounts known for spreading misinformation about the conflict.

Yaccarino stated that X formed a “leadership group” to assess the situation shortly after the Hamas attack was reported. The CEO outlined the platform’s moderation policies against violent speech and entities promoting violence and hate. X has responded to over 80 takedown requests from the EU within the required timelines. However, the company has not received any notices from Europol regarding illegal content on its service.

Yaccarino highlighted X’s use of Community Notes in combating misinformation by displaying over 700 unique notes related to the attacks on the platform. However, an NBC News report shed light on the strain the volunteer-powered system is currently experiencing. Some community notes take hours or even days to be approved, and there are instances where posts fail to be labeled at all, reducing the overall effectiveness of the moderation efforts.

While Yaccarino’s letter struck a diplomatic tone, Musk himself has been more direct in his responses to Breton. He urged the commissioner to publicly list specific violations on the platform and emphasized a commitment to transparency, stating, “We take our actions in the open. No backroom deals.” The EU’s response to X and its compliance with the DSA is now eagerly anticipated, as non-compliance could lead to investigations and possible fines.

X has taken steps to address the concerns raised by the EU regarding the dissemination of illegal content and disinformation on its platform. The company’s efforts to remove Hamas-affiliated accounts and combat misinformation through Community Notes demonstrate a commitment to moderation. Nevertheless, challenges in moderation and concerns over transparency remain, particularly in light of the changes implemented under Elon Musk’s ownership. As the battle against illegal content continues, it remains to be seen how both X and the EU will navigate these challenges to ensure a safer and more trustworthy online environment.

Tech

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