EU Makes Meta & Musk Remove Israel-Hamas Propaganda
The European Union has given both Mark Zuckerberg of Meta and Elon Musk of X (aka Twitter) 24 hours to adhere to the Digital Services Act (DSA) and remove harmful terrorist content and disinformation surrounding the Israel-Hamas conflict.
There has been a significant uptick in misinformation concerning the attacks, including altered imagery and mislabelled videos.
European Commissioner Thierry Breton has sent letters to Musk and Zuckerberg saying all social platforms, Instagram, Facebook, and X, must ensure that once they receive alerts of harmful content, they take it down with “timely, diligent and objective action.”
A Meta spokesperson told the BBC: “After the terrorist attacks by Hamas on Israel on Saturday, we quickly established a special operations centre staffed with experts, including fluent Hebrew and Arabic speakers, to closely monitor and respond to this rapidly evolving situation.”
“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.”
Additionally, the European Commission repeated that all social media companies must legally comply to block the distribution of dangerous content reported by the Palestinian militant group Hamas or supporters, which the EU has marked as a terrorist group.
“Content circulating online that can be associated with Hamas qualifies as terrorist content, is illegal, and needs to be removed under both the Digital Services Act and Terrorist Content Online Regulation,” a Commission spokesperson said.
For X, Breton wrote a letter to Musk warning of penalties because despite being alerted to circulating “violent and terrorist content” which included “fake and manipulated images and facts” on his platform, it had not been removed.
Breton wrote: “I therefore invite you to urgently ensure that your systems are effective, and report on the crisis measures taken to my team.”
Musk countered that X had acted by deleting newly created Hamas-affiliated accounts, but for the alleged violations, he asked the EU to list them.
“Our policy is that everything is open and transparent, an approach that I know the EU supports. Please list the violations you allude to on X so that the public can see them,” Musk said.
In answer, Breton asserted the ownness is on Musk and that he is “well aware of your users’ – and authorities’ – reports on fake content and glorification of violence”, including Musk needs to step up to “demonstrate that you walk the talk.”
This is the latest action the EU has taken under the DSA, which was constructed to safeguard users of big tech platforms, and if companies do not observe the new law, EU fines can be handed down of as much as 6% of a company’s worldwide turnover, or even interruption of the service.
In 2022, Musk disbanded Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council, which liaised with roughly 100 independent groups that made recommendations on how to prevent spreading content surrounding topics like self-harm, child abuse, and hate speech.