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12 Oct, 2023 16:26

CEO of X (aka Twitter) responds to EU ‘disinfo’ threats

Commissioner Thierry Breton demanded the platform squashes “disinformation” regarding the Israel-Gaza war or face unspecified penalties
CEO of X (aka Twitter) responds to EU ‘disinfo’ threats

The CEO of X (aka Twitter), Linda Yaccarino, has defended the platform’s response to a purported surge in disinformation and harmful content following Hamas’ attack on Israel, in an open letter to EU internal markets commissioner Thierry Breton on Wednesday.

The social media platform has “redistributed resources” and “refocused teams” to manage the flow of information regarding the conflict 24/7, Yaccarino explained, claiming that a dedicated “leadership group” had been assembled in the immediate aftermath of the Palestinian militants’ incursion to devise a platform-wide strategy.

As a result, she said, tens of thousands of posts and other media related to the war had been removed since Saturday, while hundreds of accounts allegedly connected to terrorist groups, extremism, and violence had been deplatformed.

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

More than 700 Community Notes, the crowdsourced fact-checking platform owner Elon Musk has promoted as an alternative to establishment fact-checkers, are circulating regarding the conflict, she continued, revealing that the annotations are being published faster than ever before.

Breton had warned Musk in an “urgent” open letter on Tuesday that X was facing a potential investigation and steep penalties under the EU’s new Digital Services Act if it did not immediately address the illegal content and disinformation purportedly running rampant on the platform regarding the Israel-Gaza conflict.

The billionaire was given 24 hours to respond to Breton’s demands, which included an order to reach out to law enforcement in order to “ensure [X] respond[s] promptly to their requests.” In her response, Yaccarino insisted that X was responding readily to requests from law enforcement, but that it had received none from Europol at the time of writing.

While Breton had claimed that the EU had “indications” X was being used to spread both disinformation and illegal content, suggesting “qualified sources” had confirmed the platform was flouting EU regulations, he did not mention any specific violations in his letter. Musk repeatedly requested examples in a thread on X, but Breton demurred, claiming the Tesla CEO was “well aware” of complaints regarding “fake content and glorification of violence.

X’s Safety division revealed earlier this week that the platform had seen an increase in daily active users in Israel and Palestine and was specifically targeting new Hamas-affiliated accounts for removal via a partnership with the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism.

On Wednesday, Breton also reached out to threaten Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg with a similar “urgent” letter, warning the billionaire he had 24 hours to provide the bloc with a detailed description of how his platform was addressing the spread of disinformation and illegal content regarding the Israel-Hamas war.