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EU Commissioner directs Meta and X to act against misinformation relating to Israel-Hamas war

While Meta listed its efforts in a blog post, X’s response to the EU Commissioner’s letter was not made public.

What’s the news: “In the three days following October 7, [Meta] removed or marked as disturbing more than 795,000 pieces of content for violating these policies in Hebrew and Arabic… As compared to the two months prior, in the three days following October 7, [Meta] removed seven times as many pieces of content on a daily basis for violating our Dangerous Organizations and Individuals policy in Hebrew and Arabic alone,” said Meta on October 13, 2023, in a post listing the social media giant’s efforts regarding the Israel-Hamas war.

Meta’s response came two days after Thierry Breton, the European Union Commissioner, sent a letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg enquiring about the company’s measures to address the situation.

“We are seeing a surge of illegal content and disinformation being disseminated in the EU via certain platforms. I would ask you to be very vigilant to ensure strict compliance with the DSA [Digital Service Act] rules on terms of service, on the requirement of timely, diligent and objective action following notices of illegal content in the EU and on the need for proportionate and effective mitigation measures. I urgently invite you to ensure that your systems are effective. Needless to say, I also expect you to be in contact with the relevant law enforcement authorities and Europol, and ensure that you respond promptly to any requests,” said Breton, adding that the organisation expected a response within 24 hours.

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Fact-checkers taking the charge on Meta platforms: Responding to the letter, Meta said it is currently working with “third-party fact-checkers in the region to debunk false claims.” The company also made it easier for fact-checkers to “find and rate content related to the war, using keyword detection to group related content in one place.”

Warning labels to content: Meta said it is giving people “more information to decide what to read, trust, and share” by adding warning labels on content that fact-checkers rate false and applying labels to state-controlled media publishers.

“We also have limits on message forwarding and label messages that haven’t originated with the sender so people are aware that something is information from a third party,” said Meta.

Expanding policy on Violence and Incitement: Meta temporarily expanded our Violence and Incitement policy and removed content that “clearly identifies hostages.” However, it still allows content with blurred images of the victims that are in line with standards established by the Geneva Convention.

X CEO also receives letter from EU Commissioner: Aside from Zuckerberg, Breton had also sent a letter to X microblogging platform’s CEO Elon Musk raising concerns about how the platform may be in the process of being used to circulate illegal content and disinformation. He asked Musk on October 10 to ensure a clear transparency policy regarding content. Like Zuckerberg, he asked Musk to respond within 24 hours.

Then on October 12, Breton announced that X had received a reply from X regarding the same. This was around 1:29 PM as per the platform’s time stamp.

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However, on that same day at 11:15 PM, the Commission issued a press release stating it was investigating X’s compliance with the DSA. It asked X to provide the requested information to the Commission services by October 18 “for questions related to the activation and functioning of X’s crisis response protocol” and by October 31 on the rest.

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Written By

I'm interested in the shaping and strengthening of rights in the digital space. I cover cybersecurity, platform regulation, gig worker economy. In my free time, I'm either binge-watching an anime or off on a hike.

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