As the Israel-Palestine crisis unfolds, a massive barrage of disinformation has hit X-formerly-Twitter — and regulators are watching in horror.
Manipulated and fake images are widely circulating on the platform, a dire situation compounded by X owner Elon Musk's gutting of the company's workforce, including its content moderation team, following his chaotic takeover last year.
In an "urgent letter" addressed to X owner Elon Musk, Thierry Breton, the European commissioner for the internal market, accused the platform of enabling the dissemination of "illegal content and disinformation in the EU" and ordered Musk to file a response "within the next 24 hours," ensuring "that your systems are effective, and report on the crisis measures taken."
Breton also wrote that the "violent and terrorist content that appears to circulate on your platform," after Musk made "changes in public interest policies" was leaving "many European users uncertain."
At 24 hours since Breton shared his letter, Musk has yet to show any indication of interest in making changes to X's policies.
It didn't take long for the outspoken billionaire to respond to Breton's request, albeit without actually addressing the issue.
"Our policy is that everything is open source and transparent, an approach that I know the EU supports," Musk wrote in a confounding tweet. "Please list the violations you allude to on 𝕏, so that that the public can see them."
Breton didn't take kindly to the suggestion, telling Musk that it's "up to you to demonstrate that you walk the talk."
By all indications, Musk has yet to officially write a response or make X's content policies sufficiently clear beyond telling Breton that "we take our actions in the open."
Musk's telltale gut reaction of doubling down on his laissez-faire vision is telling, especially he's been actively contributing to the issue himself. In a since-deleted tweet, Musk recommended that users follow two accounts that have historically spread dangerous lies and made antisemitic comments, as The Washington Post reports.
It's still unclear if the European Commission will end up taking action or imposing "penalties" due to non-compliance, as Breton's letter warns.
The EU's recently enacted Digital Services Act requires any platforms with more than 45 million monthly active users to scan for illegal content and take it down as well. Companies can get fined up to six percent of their global turnover if they don't comply with the new rules.
That kind of penalty could turn out to be a major hit for a platform that is already in deep financial turmoil.
In short, the Israel-Palestine conflict could be seen as the first major international crisis to stress test Musk's social media platform — and given his apparent disinterest in tackling disinformation, he appears to be failing miserably.
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