The European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, has issued a stern warning to tech billionaire Elon Musk regarding the proliferation of illegal content and disinformation on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. Breton’s warning comes against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas conflict, which has raised concerns about the spread of misleading and harmful content on the platform.
In a letter addressed to Elon Musk on Tuesday, Breton expressed deep concerns about the presence of misinformation and “violent and terrorist” content on X. He urged Musk to respond to the issue within a 24-hour period, emphasizing that failure to comply with European regulations regarding illegal content could lead to fines amounting to 6% of a company’s annual revenue.
Breton’s letter followed numerous reports from researchers, news organizations, and other groups documenting a surge in questionable content on X, which has caused confusion and misinformation surrounding the ongoing conflict.
The European Commissioner shared his letter through an X post, tagging Musk’s handle and using a hashtag related to the Digital Services Act (DSA). The DSA is newly enacted European Commission legislation that mandates platforms with over 45 million monthly active users in the European Union to monitor and remove illegal content while providing transparency regarding their content moderation protocols.
Breton reminded Musk in the letter that the DSA imposes precise obligations on content moderation and requires platforms like X to be transparent and consistent in enforcing their policies.
The commissioner noted that recent “changes in public interest policies” on X had caused confusion among European users. These changes likely reference adjustments made over the weekend to X’s public interest policy, which affects the platform’s decision to leave certain posts visible to everyone despite policy violations.
Breton pointed to reports from public media and civil society organizations regarding the circulation of fake and manipulated images and information on X within the EU. These included repurposed images from unrelated conflicts and military footage from video games, which were presented as real and misleading information.
Breton urged Musk to ensure the effectiveness of X’s content moderation systems and report the crisis measures taken to his team. He also emphasized the importance of X’s cooperation with law enforcement authorities and Europol, as well as responding promptly to their requests.
The commissioner concluded by warning that penalties could be imposed following the opening of a potential investigation and a finding of non-compliance.
As of the time of this report, X has not provided a response to CNBC’s request for comment regarding the European regulator’s warning.