Elon Musk's face super-imposed on the Twitter and X Corp. logos.

A graphic shows Elon Musk's face super-imposed on the Twitter and X Corp. logos.

(Photo: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Musk's X Targeted in First Probe Under EU Digital Safety Law

"The time of big online platforms behaving like they are 'too big to care' has come to an end," one official said.

The European Commission on Monday announced that it was opening an investigation into X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter that was purchased by billionaire Elon Musk a little more than one year ago.

The investigation marks the first under the European Union's Digital Services Act (DSA), which requires large platforms to limit illegal posts and protect public security, as Reuters reported. It is also possibly the biggest regulatory action against X so far, according to The New York Times.

"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," E.U. Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton said in a statement. "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."

"We are delighted that new regulators are flexing their powers to hold social media companies to account."

Since acquiring Twitter in 2022, Musk has been widely criticized for his management of the site, in particular for weakening policies aimed at moderating content and limiting the spread of false information. The site's advertising revenue fell by 60% from August 2022 to August 2023, as Reuters reported. And the platform hemorrhaged even more ad revenue last month after Musk expressed support for an antisemitic conspiracy theory, according to The New York Times.

In a post on Monday, Breton said he was investigating X for "suspected breach of obligations to counter illegal content and disinformation, suspected breach of transparency obligations, and suspected deceptive design of user interface."

In particular, the investigation will consider the process by which X takes down illegal content flagged by E.U. authorities, the effectiveness of its community notes system for countering disinformation, whether the switch in meaning of the blue checkmark—from verified to paid user—is a "deceptive design," and whether it has complied with E.U. language requirements, The Guardian reported. For example, there are reports X only employs one content moderator to cover the Netherlands.

The announcement comes after Breton sent a letter to X, Meta, TikTok, and Alphabet reminding them that they were required under the DSA to limit harmful and illegal content in the wake of Hamas' October 7 attack on Israel, according to Reuters.

Musk responded to Breton on X, challenging him to publicize any violations in the name of transparency.

"You are well aware of your users'—and authorities'—reports on fake content and glorification of violence," Breton replied. "Up to you to demonstrate that you walk the talk."

Responding to the news of the investigation, X said it "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," the company statement continued.

Imran Ahmed, the founder and CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), said on X that his organization had provided the E.U. with information and called the investigation "a good first step."

"CCDH has campaigned for many years for meaningful regulation of social media companies, with transparency as a central pillar, and we are delighted that new regulators are flexing their powers to hold social media companies to account," Ahmed continued in a statement.

The E.U. said the investigation would take as long as necessary, according to The Guardian. If found in violation of the DSA, X could be fined 6% of its global income or barred from the E.U.

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