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EU asks Elon Musk to prove X isn’t breaking Europe’s disinformation rules

EU asks Elon Musk to prove X isn’t breaking Europe’s disinformation rules

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A letter from EU Commissioner Thierry Breton accused Musk’s platform of allowing the dissemination of false information in the region.

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An image of Elon Musk in a tuxedo making an odd face. The background is red with weight scales on it.
Image: Kristen Radtke / The Verge; Getty Images

EU Commissioner Thierry Breton warned Elon Musk in a letter today that X, formerly Twitter, “is being used to disseminate illegal content and disinformation in the EU” after Hamas attacks in Israel. Breton also reminded Musk that the Digital Services Act (DSA), which went into effect in August, “sets very precise obligations regarding content moderation.”

The commissioner wrote that illegal content flagged by “relevant authorities” was still on the site, signifying that nothing had been done about it. The DSA, he noted, requires X to remove such content quickly and objectively. He added that Musk’s platform needs to have “proportionate and effective mitigation measures” to deal with “risks to public security and civic discourse” that resulted from disinformation.

Breton added that the media and other organizations “widely report” misleading imagery and facts from X, listing examples like old pictures from previous armed conflicts and video game footage.

Musk pushed back on Breton later in the day, writing on X that the commissioner should detail the violations his letter was referring to. “Please list the violations you allude to on X, so that that the public can see them,” Musk wrote.

Breton responded that Musk is “well aware of” reports from users and authorities about “fake content and glorification of violence.”

“I still don’t know what they’re talking about!” Musk later replied to another user on X.

EU regulators chastised Musk in late September over disinformation on the platform, with European Commissioner Věra Jourová saying then that the platform has the “largest ratio of mis/disinformation” even compared to Facebook. Though Musk’s platform had departed the voluntary EU Code of Practice on Disinformation, the DSA requires X and other “Very Large Online Platforms” to comply with similar guidelines to those laid out in the code.

Commissioner Breton ended his letter urging Musk to send back a “prompt, accurate, and complete response” to his request in the next 24 hours, adding that the answer will be included in the EU’s DSA compliance file on X.

Update October 11th, 2023, 12PM ET: Added a back-and-forth conversation between Breton and Musk that took place on X.