Elon Musk given EU ultimatum over misinformation on X/Twitter over Israel-Hamas crisis

Elon Musk looking off to the right in an outdoor car park.

European regulators have given Elon Musk 24 hours to address misinformation on X/Twitter regarding the escalating crisis in the Middle East.

A letter from the European commissioner for the internal market, Thierry Breton, demanded Musk respond to the huge amount of false and misleading information on his social media site or pay a fine amounting to six per cent of the company’s annual revenue.

Since the Hamas attack in Israel on 7 October, the platform is being used to “disseminate illegal content and disinformation“, Breton wrote.

“You need to be very transparent and clear on what content is permitted under your terms, and consistently and diligently enforce your own policies,” the letter continued.

“This is particularly relevant when it comes to violent and terrorist content that appears to circulate on your platform.”

In response to the activity generated by the conflict, X changed its public interest expectations policy to redefine what posts constitute newsworthiness.

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It removed the requirement of accounts needing at least 100,000 followers for posts to qualify, although the site states that only verified accounts are considered newsworthy sources by its algorithms.

Prior to the change, rampant disinformation around the conflict included an Algerian firework celebration being presented as an Israeli attack and clips from the military simulator Arma 3 being tagged as footage from the frontline.

Breton wrote that the overnight policy change had left many Europeans “uncertain” and demanded that Musk take action against “illegal content” in a timely, diligent and objective manner.

“You need [to] have in place proportionate and effective mitigation measures to tackle the risks to public security and civic discourse stemming from disinformation.”

Musk, who acquired the site almost 12 months ago, replied that X’s policy is “that everything is open source and transparent,” which he claimed was an approach “that I know the EU supports.”

He went on to ask: “Please list the violations you allude to on X, so that the public can see them.”

Breton responded by writing that Musk was “well aware” of reports on fake content and “glorification of violence.”

It was “up to [Elon Musk] to demonstrate that you walk the talk,” he added.

“My team remains at your disposal to ensure DSA [Digital Services Act] compliance, which the EU will continue to enforce rigorously.”