European Union Commences Investigation into Social Media Firm X for Alleged DSA Violations

The European Union has launched an inquiry into social media giant X(Twitter) on suspicion of breaching obligations, marking the first investigation under the Digital Services Act (DSA). The DSA, enacted in November of last year, mandates that online platforms and search engines take substantive measures to address illegal content and potential threats to public security.

Focus on Mitigating Illegal Content and Curbing Information Manipulation

The investigation aims to counter the dissemination of illegal content within the European Union and to evaluate the efficacy of measures taken to combat information manipulation. Particular attention will be given to scrutinizing X’s recently introduced “Community Notes” feature. This feature allows users to flag false or misleading content by facilitating crowd-sourced fact-checking capabilities.

Scrutiny on Community Notes Feature and Data Access

Launched earlier this year, the “Community Notes” feature encourages user participation in identifying and reporting false information, departing from traditional fact-checking methods. The investigation will also encompass various aspects of X’s business practices, including examining the data access provided to researchers.

Researchers Encounter Challenges Amid Platform Access Limitations

Recent actions by Elon Musk, mainly restricting access to the platform, have impeded social media research. According to a Reuters report last month, over 100 studies related to X(Twitter) have been canceled, suspended, or altered due to these restrictions.

A senior EU official clarified, “The step we are taking today does not find X guilty of an infringement or conclude that X has actually infringed the DSA. It merely states that we have significant grounds to investigate these areas in detail.”

X’s Commitment to Compliance

In response to the investigation, X has affirmed its dedication to complying with the DSA and expressed cooperation with the regulatory process. In a statement issued on Monday, the company emphasized the importance of maintaining a process free of political influence and strictly adhering to the law.

Musk Poses Questions to EU Industry Chief

Elon Musk, the owner of X,took to social media to question the European Union’s approach, specifically asking EU industry chief Thierry Breton if similar actions were being taken against other social media platforms. Musk’s post suggested that if issues exist with X, other platforms may fare worse.

Surge of Disinformation Post-Hamas Attacks

The investigation is contextualized by the surge of fake images and misleading information flooding social media platforms, including X, following Hamas’ attacks on Israel on October 7. In response, Breton sent letters to X, Meta, TikTok, and Alphabet, reminding them of their obligations under the DSA to combat harmful and illegal content.

X is just one of the major companies on the DSA’s radar. Presently, X is the sole company to have received a formal request for information under the DSA.

Italian Politicians Rally Behind Musk

Italian politicians, including Deputy Prime Minister and far-right leader Matteo Salvini, defended Musk’s stance on freedom of speech during a right-wing political gathering in Rome, where Musk spoke over the weekend.

In-Depth Investigation and Potential Penalties

The Commission announced its intention to conduct a comprehensive investigation involving additional requests for information, interviews, and inspections. The review will also assess measures implemented by X to enhance transparency and Blue check subscriptions. The DSA imposes new regulations on content moderation, user privacy, and transparency, with potential fines of up to 6% of a company’s global turnover for any identified breaches. The Commission assured a thorough examination of X’s actions, emphasizing the gravity of the allegations.

This investigation underscores the evolving landscape of digital regulation and the challenges social media platforms face in addressing the dissemination of illegal content while maintaining transparency in an era of rapid information sharing.