Web Stories Friday, March 1

The European Union has opened a formal investigation into X over its content moderation practices, a probe that could eventually lead to steep fines or other penalties under a new EU law.

The European Commission’s wide-ranging review of the company formerly known as Twitter targets everything from its handling of content about the Israel-Hamas war to a new paid verification system unveiled under owner Elon Musk — which EU officials described as a “suspected deceptive design.”

The probe will also look into X’s crowdsourced factchecking program, Community Notes, and whether it has been effective at fighting misinformation related to “civic discourse and electoral processes,” the European Commission said in a release.

“Today we open formal infringement proceedings against @X,” said Thierry Breton, a leading European commissioner on digital regulation, in a post on the platform.

EU officials are investigating whether X’s conduct may have violated the Digital Services Act (DSA), a tough new law whose requirements went into effect for large online services in August.

If the Commission determines that X broke the law, the company could face fines of up to 6% of its global annual revenues.

Investigators will determine whether X failed to meet certain legal obligations to fight the spread of illegal content and disinformation, the EU said. They will also focus on whether X gave independent researchers enough access to company data to meet the DSA’s transparency rules.

Academics who study extremism and misinformation have strongly objected to X’s new “outrageously expensive” fees for access to its data. The fees also threatened to disrupt public service updates on the platform until Musk granted an exception to government accounts.

The EU’s formal investigation comes after European officials began asking questions of X earlier this fall, amid growing concerns about the presence of Hamas-affiliated accounts on the platform following the terror group’s Oct. 7 attacks against Israel.

For months, Breton has warned X and other social media platforms that the EU will be keeping tabs on the companies’ legal compliance.

In a meeting with Breton as early as last May, prior to purchasing Twitter for $44 billion, Musk had expressed support for the new European regulations.

Asked for comment on Monday’s announcement, X referred CNN to a company post on the platform vowing to cooperate with the investigation and pledging continued commitment to DSA compliance.

“It is important that this process remains free of political influence and follows the law,” X said in the post. “X is focused on creating a safe and inclusive environment for all users on our platform, while protecting freedom of expression, and we will continue to work tirelessly towards this goal.”

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