(Photo courtesy of Noah Berger | AP)

EU to investigate X over suspected breaches of social media law

The European Union launched an investigation on Monday into Elon Musk’s social media site X, formerly Twitter, over possible breaches of the new Digital Services Act.

“Today we open formal infringement proceedings against @X” under the Digital Services Act, European Commissioner Thierry Breton said in a post on the platform.

“The Commission will now investigate X’s systems and policies related to certain suspected infringements,” spokesman Johannes Bahrke said at a press briefing in Brussels. “It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.”

The European Commission’s probe will investigate:

  • Whether X failed to do its due diligence in curbing illegal content such as hate speech and incitement of violence.
  • Whether X’s fact-checking systems such as Community Notes were effective in the European Union.
  • The “suspected shortcomings” in DSA-required access to X’s data by researchers.
  • The suspected deceptiveness of X’s blue checkmark system.

X’s blue checkmarks previously indicated an account was verified as the genuine account of a politician, journalist, company or similar figure. Now, it simply indicates payment to an $8 monthly subscription, which some have criticized as enabling impersonation and misinformation by allowing any account to appear legitimate.

“X remains committed to complying with the Digital Services Act, and is cooperating with the regulatory process,” the company said in a statement. “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.”

EU officials have previously called X one of the largest sources of misinformation online.

Under the DSA, passed last November, social media companies with more than 45 million users must actively combat illegal and manipulative content and risks to public security on their platforms.

Penalties could include fines of up to 6% of a non-compliant company’s global revenue, or even a ban from the EU. However, these are more of a last resort.

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