Elon Musk has told an EU chief to send him a list of the “violations” he is accused of – after the bloc told him to tackle the spread of disinformation about the conflict between Israel and Hamas on his X messaging platform.
X, formerly known as Twitter, says it is trying to take action on a flood of posts sharing graphic media, violent speech and hateful conduct about the war and is treating the crisis with its highest level of response.
But outside watchdog groups and European Commissioner Thierry Breton say misinformation, as well as fake and manipulated imagery, is circulating on the platform.
It comes after the struggle to identify reliable sources for news about the war was exacerbated over the weekend by Mr Musk, who on Sunday posted the names of two accounts he said were “good” for “following the war in real-time”.
Analyst Emerson Brooking of the Atlantic Council called one of those accounts “absolutely poisonous”.
Journalists and X users also pointed out that both accounts had previously shared a fake AI-generated image of an explosion at the Pentagon, and that one of them had posted numerous antisemitic comments in recent months.
Mr Musk later deleted his post.
X ‘not complying with EU rules’
Mr Breton said on Tuesday that he had indication that Mr Musk’s X platform was being used to disseminate illegal content and disinformation.
This includes “repurposed old images of unrelated armed conflicts or military footage that actually originated from video games,” Mr Breton said in a letter to Mr Musk on Tuesday.
“This appears to be manifestly false or misleading information.”
The EU commissioner said Mr Musk needs to tackle the spread of disinformation in order to comply with new EU online content rules.
He said in a letter to the tech billionaire: “I therefore invite you to urgently ensure that your systems are effective and report on the crisis measures taken to my team.”
Responding to Mr Breton’s post on X, Mr Musk said his company’s policy was that everything is open source and transparent.
“Please list the violations you allude to on X, so that the public can see them,” he said on the messaging platform.
Mr Breton insisted Mr Musk knows there is an issue.
“You are well aware of your users’ – and authorities’- reports on fake content and glorification of violence. Up to you
to demonstrate that you walk the talk,” he responded to Mr Musk on X.
The online content rules known as the Digital Services Act (DSA) require X and other large online platforms to remove
illegal content and to take measures to tackle the risks to public security and civic discourse.
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Mr Breton wrote: “Given the urgency, I also expect you to be in contact with the relevant law enforcement authorities and Europol, and ensure that you respond promptly to their requests.”
He said his team would also follow up with Musk on a number of other immediate issues related to DSA compliance.
“I urge you to ensure a prompt, accurate and complete response to this request within the next 24 hours,” Mr Breton said.
X did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Mr Breton’s letter.
But an earlier post late on Monday from X’s safety team said: “In the past couple of days, we’ve seen an increase in daily active users on @X in the conflict area, plus there have been more than 50 million posts globally focusing on the weekend’s terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas.
“As the events continue to unfold rapidly, a cross-company leadership group has assessed this moment as a crisis requiring the highest level of response.”
The response includes continuing a policy frequently championed by Mr Musk of letting users help rate what might be misinformation, which causes those posts to include a note of context but not disappear from the platform.