Elon Musk’s X responds to EU over ‘illegal’ Israel-Hamas content

Elon Musk's X responds to EU over 'illegal' Israel-Hamas content

Linda Yaccarino: CEO of X speaking with CNBC’s Sara Eisen on Aug. 10th, 2023.

CNBC

Linda Yaccarino, CEO of X, formerly known as Twitter, on Thursday laid out how the social media platform is tackling potential illegal content related to the Israel-Hamas conflict after one of the European Union’s top regulators said it had seen signs that the service was being used to spread disinformation.

The militant Palestinian group Hamas launched an attack on Israel over the weekend. Hamas has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S., Japan, Australia, Israel, the European Union and many other countries.

In a letter posted on X, Yaccarino said that after the Hamas attack on Israel, the social media firm “assembled a leadership group to assess the situation.”

X has “identified and removed hundreds of Hamas-affiliated accounts” since the start of the war, Yaccarino said.

The CEO also detailed the company’s policies around violent speech, synthetic or manipulated media and perpetrators of violent attacks.

“X is committed to serving the public conversation, especially in critical moments like this and understands the importance of addressing any illegal content that may be disseminated through the platform,” Yaccarino said.

“There is no place on X for terrorist organizations or violent extremist groups and we continue to remove such accounts in real time, including proactive efforts.”

More CNBC coverage of the Israel-Hamas war

EU reminds X of potential fines

Yaccarino’s letter comes after Thierry Breton, the EU’s commissioner for internal market, on Wednesday gave X 24 hours to respond to a notice in which he said the EU has “indications” that X is “being used to disseminate illegal content and disinformation in the EU” after the “terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas against Israel.”

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This year, the EU introduced the Digital Services Act (DSA), a sweeping piece of regulation that forces online platforms to police illegal content more aggressively or risk huge fines.

Breton, in his letter to X owner Elon Musk, called out a change in the social media firm’s public interest policy, which defines which posts on the service can be kept up even if they go against the company’s own content rules. Breton said that the changes “left many European users uncertain.”

The EU commissioner also said that there are reports of “fake and manipulated images and facts circulating” on X.

Breton also said that he expects X to be in contact with relevant law enforcement authorities and Europol and respond “promptly” to their requests.

Yaccarino said so far, X has responded to more than 80 take down requests received in the EU “within required timelines in a diligent and objective manner.” She asked the European Commission to “provide more detail” of the alleged illegal content on X. The CEO added that the company has not received any notices from Europol relating to illegal content on the service.

Breton also sent a similar letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg this week, urging him to be “vigilant” regarding content in relation to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The EU continues to ramp up scrutiny of Big Tech. In April, under the DSA, the European Commission designated 19 companies, including Apple and Amazon, as “very large” online platforms, meaning that they will come under closer monitoring under the regulations.

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