European Commissioner Thierry Breton has announced an official investigation into Elon Musk’s X, formerly known as Twitter.
The probe is the latest chapter in a long-running feud between the European Commission and Musk since the US billionaire took over the social media giant in 2022.
In a press release published on December 18, the EC said it suspected X of numerous violations of the bloc’s Digital Services Act (DSA).
Today we open formal infringement proceedings against @X :
⚠️ Suspected breach of #Transparency obligations
— Thierry Breton (@ThierryBreton) December 18, 2023
Among the accusations of wrongdoing, the body attacked X for its alleged failure to censor “illegal content” relating to the Israel-Hamas war.
The EC also took aim at X’s “Community Notes” feature, expressing concern that its implementation may fail to “combat information manipulation”, although no further information was given.
Another complaint regarded Musk’s decision to make Twitter’s blue checkmarks available to the general public once they pay a subscription, with the EC suggesting the new model could constitute “deceptive design”.
If X is found guilty of wrongdoing regarding any one of the above issues, it could face fines as high as 6 per cent of its global yearly revenues, as well as a temporary ban from operating within the European Union.
Big Tech bosses can “no longer hide” from the European Union’s censorship drive, said European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton. https://t.co/n5zmn07Prs
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) October 17, 2023
Speaking of the announcement, Breton boasted of the EC’s power to bring social media platforms to heel after the implementation of the Digital Services Act (DSA).
“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,” he declared.
“We will now start an in-depth investigation of X’s compliance with the DSA obligations concerning countering the dissemination and amplification of illegal content and disinformation in the EU, transparency of the platforms and design of the user interface.”
Others were critical of the investigation, with the European Conservatives and Reformists group’s vice-chairman Robert Roos publicly voicing support for Musk in the wake of the EC’s announcement.
“The vitality of a robust democracy thrives solely upon the bedrock of unrestricted expression,” he wrote on X.
“Regrettably, the unelected [EC] stands adverse to this principle, demonstrating an aversion toward free speech.
“Their pursuit is of dominion, a dominion rightfully vested within the populace,” he added.
Roos added that “the people” were on the side of Musk, with the Dutch politician urging the billionaire to “stay strong”.
X has published a statement saying it is “committed to complying with the Digital Services Act” but warned that the EU’s enforcement of the legislation must be kept separate from politics.
“It is important that this process remains free of political influence and follows the law,” the platform said.
“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.”
Google’s YouTube and TikTok will be asked by EU industry chief Thierry Breton to explain how they protect children from illegal and harmful content on their platforms in line with new EU rules. https://t.co/q8fzSYUmgo
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) November 9, 2023