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EU gives Meta 24 hours to respond to pro-Hamas content

EU gives Meta 24 hours to respond to pro-Hamas content


Tech platforms could face hefty fines for failing to remove illegal content due to the EU’s new Digital Services Act.

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Illustration: The Verge

European Commissioner Thierry Breton warned Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg Wednesday that failing to remove pro-Hamas content across his platforms could put the company in violation of new EU moderation regulations. 

In a letter to Zuckerberg Wednesday, Breton urged Meta “to be very vigilant” in removing illegal terrorist content and hate speech amid the ongoing war in Israel. Breton said that the European Commission had seen “a surge of illegal content and disinformation being disseminated in the EU,” potentially putting social media platforms in violation of its Digital Services Act, or DSA.

The DSA went into effect in August, making tech giants like Google, Meta, and Amazon liable for content that’s illegal in the EU being posted on their platforms. If any of these large tech companies fail to remove this content, they could be fined upwards of 6 percent of their annual revenue. 

“I urgently invite you to ensure that your systems are effective.”

“I urgently invite you to ensure that your systems are effective,” Breton wrote. “Needless to say, I also expect you to be in contact with the relevant law enforcement authorities and Europol, and ensure that you respond promptly to any requests.”

Breton asked that Zuckerberg respond to the EU’s concerns within the next 24 hours. 

In a statement to The Verge Wednesday, Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said that the company created a “special operations center with experts, including fluent in Hebrew and Arabic speakers” after the Hamas attacks on Israel Saturday. “Our teams are working around the clock to keep our platforms safe, take action on content that violates our policies or local law, and coordinate with third-party fact checkers in the region to limit the spread of misinformation. We’ll continue this work as this conflict unfolds,” Stone said.

On Tuesday, Breton wrote to Elon Musk warning him that X, formerly Twitter, was being used to share similarly illegal content. Breton noted that some of this content was flagged to the company by “relevant authorities” but remained on the site. 

Responding to Breton on X Wednesday, Musk asked Breton to flag the violative content publicly on X, writing that the company takes its “actions in the open.” Breton replied saying, “You are well aware of your users’ — and authorities’ — reports on fake content and glorification of violence.”

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

On Tuesday, Zuckerberg called the attacks from Hamas “pure evil” in a statement posted to his Instagram Story. “The widespread suffering that has resulted is devastating. My focus remains on the safety of our employees and their families in Israel and the region.”

Updated October 11th, 2023 at 4:45 PM ET: Included a statement from Meta.