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The European Commission has launched legal action against social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, under its landmark rules for online platforms, the Digital Services Act (DSA).

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The executive said Monday it would probe whether X may have breached EU rules “in areas linked to risk management, content moderation, dark patterns, advertising transparency and data access for researchers.”

The move represents the first-ever proceeding under the DSA, which was designed to create a safer space online, and adds further turmoil to a company that has struggled to find a stable footing since the $44-billion acquisition by Elon Musk.

It follows a request for information sent by the Commission to X in October after it received indications the platform was spreading illegal content and disinformation, particularly terrorist and violent content in the context of the Israel-Hamas war.

Since August 2023, X is one of 17 platforms designated under the DSA as a “very large online platform,” which makes it subject to new, stringent norms on the dissemination of illegal content, the protection of fundamental rights and public security.

“We take any breach of our rules very seriously. And the evidence we currently have is enough to formally open a proceeding against X,” said Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s executive vice-president. 

The opening of the proceeding makes it clear that “the time of big online platforms behaving like they are ‘too big to care’ has come to an end,” said Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for the internal market, promising an “in-depth investigation.”

The executive will continue monitoring the platform’s compliance with all other obligations under the DSA and could take further action if any wrongdoing is detected, said a Commission spokesperson.

The Commission has urged the company to “cooperate” on the probe, the spokesperson added.

X did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Euronews.

Four potential infringements

The Commission said on Monday its investigation would focus on alleged breaches under four articles of the DSA related to:

  •  The dissemination of illegal content, including measures taken to identify and swiftly remove illegal content and to allow users to flag such content.
  • Measures taken to combat information manipulation, such as the so-called “community notes” introduced in 2021 to debunk misleading posts.
  • Measures to increase transparency, amid suspected failures to provide researchers with adequate access to X’s publicly accessible data, including on paid ads.
  • The suspected deceptive design of X’s user interface, such as the so-called “blue checkmark,” a paid-for continuation promoted by Elon Musk that designates a user as an “active, notable, and authentic” member of the platform.

Fears about X’s role in disseminating illegal content and disinformation have increased since the eruption of violence in the Middle East on October 7th.

An October study by information rating system News Guard claimed so-called “verified” users of X posted the majority of viral information about the Israel-Hamas war.

This article has been updated with more information about the investigation.

Read the full article here

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