Elon Musk’s X has kowtowed to Brussels after the European Union’s censorship tsar Thierry Breton demanded a clampdown on “illegal” content linked to the Hamas attack on Israel.
Responding to the French European Commissioner’s 24-hour ultimatum, X CEO Linda Yaccarino insisted that the platform formerly known as Twitter was taking action against content deemed problematic by European lawmakers, in line with the Digital Services Act (DSA).
Publicly presenting Breton with a “high level summary” of X’s censorship efforts, Yaccarino confirmed that the company was responding “promptly to law enforcement requests from around the world” regarding unacceptable material on its site.
— Global Government Affairs (@GlobalAffairs) October 12, 2023
“Since the terrorist attack on Israel, we have taken action to remove or label tens of thousands of pieces of content, while Community Notes are visible on thousands of posts, generating millions of impressions,” she wrote.
Yaccarion went on to emphasise that the platform had clear policies regarding violent content and posts supporting violence or terrorism and that such rules were being implemented consistently.
“X is committed to transparency, safety and the successful implementation of the DSA and will continue to take all appropriate steps to that end,” she said.
The EU's Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton has suggested the bloc could start cutting off problematic websites under new legislation. https://t.co/ypDSDgTI3u
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) September 13, 2023
Her response represents the latest instance of X bowing to the censorship demands of Brussels.
Although frequently butting heads with Berlaymont and Breton over freedom of speech, X has largely worked to appease Eurocrats when the company’s legal obligations are involved.
A failure on the platform’s part to uphold the EU’s censorship law could be costly for the social media giant. Any breach of the DSA opens it up to the possibility of fines valued at 6 per cent of its global revenue.
Brussels also has the option of stripping the platform from the European internet if any such DSA breaches were deemed serious enough.
X’s decision to give way on the issue is not a complete win for Breton though, with several pro-EU figureheads coming out to criticise the internal market Commissioner for his style of diplomacy.
With respect to @ThierryBreton, enforcement of 🇪🇺 law should not be negotiated on X.
If X are in breach of the #DSA, serve them with an enforcement notice & follow up if you don’t get the required response.
Tit for tat antics on public social media are not appropriate pic.twitter.com/DRVbgsNW5W
— Billy Kelleher MEP (@BillyKelleherEU) October 11, 2023
“With respect to [Thierry Breton], enforcement of [EU] law should not be negotiated on X,” Billy Kelleher MEP wrote online.
“Tit for tat antics on public social media are not appropriate.”
Those outside the EU also appeared unhappy regarding Breton’s efforts to strip content from X. Among them, US journalist and documentary maker Michael Shellenberger lashed out at the Commissioner’s censorship push.
Hi — sorry — but who exactly do you think you are to demand censorship of speech? In America, we don’t even let our own politicians censor speech, much less foreign ones. Please consider reading the First Amendment to our Constitution AND BACK THE HELL OFF https://t.co/zIMxCvitnB
— Michael Shellenberger (@shellenberger) October 11, 2023
“Hi – sorry – but who exactly do you think you are to demand censorship of speech?” Shellenberger asked of Breton.
“In America, we don’t even let our own politicians censor speech, much less foreign ones. Please consider reading the First Amendment to our Constitution AND BACK THE HELL OFF.”
Efforts to censor the internet in Europe must be left to the European Union and its Digital Services Act, the European Commission has told France. https://t.co/C6RmyA6Swa
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) August 3, 2023