EU – European Union has issued a warning to Mark Zuckerberg regarding the dissemination of “disinformation” on Meta social media platforms following Hamas’ attack on Israel. Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has been given a 24-hour deadline to respond and comply with European law.
Social media companies have experienced a surge in misleading information concerning the conflict, including altered images and incorrectly labeled videos. On Tuesday, the EU also cautioned X, formerly known as Twitter, about similar content.
Thierry Breton, the EU industry chief, informed Meta that it must demonstrate its timely, diligent, and objective efforts in addressing the spread of disinformation on its platforms. In a written communication, he emphasized that Meta had 24 hours to report the “appropriate and effective” actions taken.
A spokesperson from Meta assured that in response to the recent attacks by Hamas on Israel, they swiftly established a specialized operations center staffed with experts, including individuals fluent in Hebrew and Arabic, to closely monitor and respond to the rapidly evolving situation. Their teams are working tirelessly to maintain platform safety, take action against content that violates their policies or local laws, and collaborate with third-party fact-checkers in the region to limit the dissemination of misleading information. This commitment will continue throughout the ongoing conflict.
Simultaneously, the Eu Commission has reminded all social media companies including meta of their legal obligation to prevent the spread of harmful content associated with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which is classified as a proscribed terrorist organization within the EU.
A Commission spokesperson clarified that content linked to Hamas circulating online qualifies as terrorist material, making it illegal and necessitating removal in accordance with both the Digital Services Act and the Terrorist Content Online Regulation.
Elon Musk warning
On Tuesday, Mr. Breton wrote a letter to Mr. Musk stating that X had not taken down “violent and terrorist content” despite receiving warnings.
Mr Musk said his company had taken action, including by removing newly-created Hamas-affiliated accounts. He asked the EU to list the alleged violations.
Mr Breton did not give details on the disinformation he was referring to in his letter to Mr Musk. He stated that the social media platform widely reported instances of “fake and manipulated images and facts.”
“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.
The interventions come days after the Hamas launched an attack on Israel, killing hundreds of residents and taking dozens of hostages.
In response, Israeli forces have launched waves of missile strikes on Gaza which have killed more than 900 people.
In his response on X, Mr Musk said: “Our policy is that everything is open and transparent, an approach that I know the EU supports.
“Please list the violations you allude to on X, so that the public can see them.”
Musk “Well aware of your users’
Mr Breton said that Mr Musk was “well aware of your users’ – and authorities’ – reports on fake content and glorification of violence”, adding that it was up to him to “demonstrate that you walk the talk”.
The EU Digital Services Act (DSA) is designed to protect users of big tech platforms.
It became law last November but firms were given time to make sure their systems complied.
On 25 April, the commission named the very large online platforms – those with over 45 million EU users – that would be subject to the toughest rules, among them X. The law came into effect four months later in August.
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.
Mr Musk dissolved Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council shortly after acquiring the company in 2022. Formed in 2016, the volunteer council contained about 100 independent groups who advised on issues such as self-harm, child abuse and hate speech.