EU launches investigation into Twitter for ‘failure’ to tackle Hamas propaganda

The company has been criticised since October 7 for allegedly failing to counter misinformation and violent content


AFP or licensors

The European Commission (EU) has launched a formal investigation into X/Twitter over alleged dissemination of misinformation and propaganda related to Hamas.

The Commission announced a full probe into Elon Musk’s company for the first time under the Digital Services Act (DSA), a new set of laws for social networking companies.

The investigation will examine whether X/Twitter have broken new EU rules governing online services. After the conclusion of the investigation, any confirmed breaches of the online governance regime can face a range of major sanctions, including fines of up to 6% of global annual turnover.

After an investigation, the EU can also apply interim measures, such as changes to its algorithms or stricter monitoring of illegal content, where it believes there’s a risk of serious harm for users.

X/Twitter has been criticised since Hamas’ terror attack on Israel on October 7 for allegedly failing to counter misinformation and violent content on the social network.

EU internal market commissioner Thierry Breton said on Monday: “Today’s opening of formal proceedings against X makes it clear that, with the DSA, the time of big online platforms behaving like they are ‘too big to care’ has come to an end.

“We now have clear rules, ex ante obligations, strong oversight, speedy enforcement, and deterrent sanctions and we will make full use of our toolbox to protect our citizens and democracies.”

It comes several weeks after Breton wrote to Musk asking him to crack down on “the spreading of terrorist and violent content and hate speech” on the site.

Breton also sent letters to Meta, TikTok and Alphabet reminding them of their obligations under the DSA to tackle harmful and illegal content. The large tech companies are facing increased scrutiny under the DSA.

The platforms responded promptly to Breton, highlighting steps they have taken to stop disinformation on their platforms but Musk challenged Breton over the disinformation charge.

Only X/Twitter received a formal request for information under the DSA and has responded to the request.

The Commission said a preliminary investigation conducted so far included an analysis of a report submitted by X/Twitter in September, a transparency report published in November and their replies to a formal request for information about illegal content in connection to Hamas' terror attacks against Israel.

An X/Twitter spokesman said: “X remains committed to complying with the Digital Services Act, and is cooperating with the regulatory process. It is important that this process remains free of political influence and follows the law.

“X is focused on creating a safe and inclusive environment for all users on our platform, while protecting freedom of expression, and we will continue to work tirelessly towards this goal.”

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