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EU Warns Meta and X on Disinformation

The European Union Officials issued a warning to both Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg on their applications hosting disinformation about the war between Hamas and Israel. The disinformation exists on both X (formerly known as Twitter) and Meta-owned social media applications.

disinformation on social media
The Meta and X (formerly known as Twitter) logos. Photo/Courtesy

According to European officials, the apps seem to be hosting misinformation and illegal content which would be in direct violation of the EU’s signature content moderation law.

Warning to Meta

EU told Meta that it has 24 hours to respond to the disinformation and comply with the European law. According to Thierry Breton, the Bloc’s industry chief, Meta must prove that it has taken the necessary action against disinformation.

Recently, social media firms have seen a surge in misinformation about the conflict, including doctored images and mislabelled videos. The companies are therefore in charge of ensuring that published misinformation does not spread throughout the site.

According to Meta, they established a special operations centre with experts to monitor and respond to the situation. The experts included people fluent in Arabic and Hebrew so as to understand content published in that language.

“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,” said the Meta spokesperson.

Musk warning

On Tuesday, Mr Bretton wrote a letter to Elon Musk, the owner of X, formerly known as Twitter. He mentioned that the violent and terrorist content posted on the site was yet to be taken down despite the warnings issued.

According to the EU official, there were fake manipulated images and videos posted on X. This misinformation began circulating after the Hamas-Israel attack began on Sunday.

Elon Musk responded to the letter by mentioning that his company had taken the necessary steps towards stopping the circulation. He mentioned that they had removed the newly-created Hamas-affiliated accounts which would potentially contribute to the spread of misinformation.

He then asked the EU to list the violations within the application so that action could be taken effectively. Mr Breton, however, did not give further details on the disinformation.

“I therefore invite you to urgently ensure that your systems are effective, and report on the crisis measures taken to my team,” he wrote in his letter which he shared on social media.

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Reasons for Misinformation.

The warnings from the EU come a few days after the Hamas launched an attack on Israel. This attack led to dozens being taken hostage and killed hundreds of residents in Israel.

In response to the attack, Israeli forces launched waves of attacks on Gaza killing more than 900 people. They continue to launch missile strikes despite the Hamas threatening to kill a hostage with every attack.

The EU Digital Services Act (DSA) has been designed to protect users of big tech platforms. The very large online platforms – those with over 45 million EU users – are subject to tougher rules, among them X.

Under the tougher rules, larger firms have to assess potential risks they may cause, report that assessment and put in place measures to deal with the problem. Failure to comply with the DSA can result in EU fines of as much as 6% of a company’s global turnover or potentially suspension of the service.

The European Commission meanwhile reminded all social media companies that they are legally required to prevent the spread of harmful content related to the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which is a proscribed terrorist group in the EU.

“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.

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