Elon Musk’s “X” Platform Under Investigation for Purposefully Spreading Disinformation

By: Georgia | Published: Dec 28, 2023

The European Union has initiated formal proceedings against X, previously known as Twitter, for suspected violations of its regulations. 

This move focuses on X’s handling of illegal content and disinformation, marking a significant step in the EU’s efforts to regulate digital platforms. Thierry Breton, the EU’s Digital Commissioner, announced these allegations on the social media platform, signaling a major move by the EU to enforce its new rules.

Accusations of Non-Transparency and Disinformation

Digital Commissioner Thierry Breton has accused X, now owned by Elon Musk, of failing to be transparent and effectively counter disinformation. 

Elon Musk, wearing a black leather jacket with a white shearling collar, looks off to the side against a dark background

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This accusation is part of the EU’s broader initiative to regulate big tech companies, particularly in areas where public safety and information integrity are concerned. X has responded, stating they are “co-operating with the regulatory process.”

X's Commitment to Compliance and Neutrality

In response to the EU’s actions, the company has released a statement emphasizing its commitment to creating a “safe and inclusive environment for all users on our platform,” as well as its dedication to protecting freedom of expression. 

Over-the-shoulder view of a man holding a smartphone with X open, showing various tweets in his feed

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The company highlighted the importance of a politically unbiased process, stating, “It is important that this process remains free of political influence and follows the law.”

The Role of the Digital Services Act (DSA) in Tech Regulation

The EU’s decision is the first formal action under the Digital Services Act (DSA), a set of regulations aimed at holding big tech firms accountable. 

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The DSA imposes additional responsibilities on major companies to safeguard users against extreme content, with significant consequences for non-compliance, including hefty fines or potential suspension.

EU Commission's Investigation into X's Practices

EU Commission spokesperson Johannes Bahrke has announced the formal proceedings against X under the DSA. This process involves a thorough investigation of X’s systems and policies related to suspected breaches. 

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Bahrke stated, “The opening of proceedings means that the Commission will now investigate X’s systems and policies related to certain suspected infringements. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.”

Previous EU Concerns Over X's Content Policies

Before these formal proceedings, the EU had raised concerns about X potentially allowing the spread of terrorist and violent content, along with hate speech. 

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In response, X removed hundreds of Hamas-affiliated accounts, demonstrating its proactive measures in content moderation.


X's Community Notes System Under Scrutiny

The EU is examining X’s Community Notes system, which allows users to comment on the accuracy of posts. 

Elon Musk appears on stage with his hands touching in front of him

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This system is seen as a method to combat disinformation, but concerns have escalated since Elon Musk’s acquisition of X, especially with the reduction of moderation staff.


Increased Content Concerns Post-Musk's Takeover

Since Elon Musk’s takeover of X, there has been a noticeable increase in concerns about the nature of the content on the platform. 

A person's finger is poised to tap the screen of a smartphone, which displays the social media profile of Elon Musk with the verified checkmark, visible follower count, and a profile logo of an 'X'

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The European Commission has warned that X might have the most significant disinformation problem among major platforms, raising questions about the effectiveness of its content moderation policies.


Controversy and Ad Boycott in the US

In the United States, controversy over extremist material on X has led to an advertising boycott and a public dispute between Musk and a campaign group.

A black 3d image of the X logo

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These disputes have raised questions about whether X could end up going bankrupt in the wake of these challenges.


X's Challenge: Balancing Free Speech and Safety

X faces the challenge of balancing the protection of free speech with the creation of a safe and inclusive environment for its users. 

Elon Musk is captured mid-stride as he passes by a microphone being held toward him. His expression is neutral, and his gaze is directed away from the camera

Source: Getty Images

This balancing act is critical as the platform navigates through the EU’s scrutiny and its own policy objectives.


Decisive Moments for X: Compliance and Future Direction

X is at a crucial juncture, with decisions to be made about complying with the EU’s regulations and its approach to content moderation. 

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These decisions will likely have far-reaching implications for the platform’s future operations and its role in the digital landscape.


The Ongoing Saga: EU vs. X

As the EU continues its investigation into X, the outcome remains uncertain. 

A row of 7 EU flags on flagpoles, in the background is the Berlaymont building

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This situation represents a pivotal moment in the relationship between large tech platforms and regulatory authorities, with the potential to set precedents for digital governance and the future of online communication.