EU opens proceedings against X in first investigation under new rules

European Commission contacted all large social media platforms, including X/Twitter, over disinformation in wake of Hamas attack on Israel


Social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, is facing an investigation by the European Commission over potential breaches of new online safety rules in Europe.

The commission said on Monday it had opened formal proceedings to investigate if Elon Musk’s platform has breached the Digital Services Act (DSA). Among the areas it is currently looking into are risk management, content moderation, dark patterns, advertising transparency and data access for researchers.

The DSA, which came into force in November last year, requires very large online platforms and search engines to do more to tackle illegal content and risks to public security, and to protect their services against manipulative techniques. Companies that breach the rules face a fine of up to 6 per cent of global turnover.

The commission said proceedings will focus on the effectiveness of measures X has taken to fight manipulation of information on its platform, including the “community notes” system it has implemented.


It will also look at the measures taken by X to increase the transparency of its platform, and investigate suspected “deceptive design”. The investigation into “deceptive design” concerns the use of “blue check” marks, which are now only available to those who pay. Before Musk, blue ticks were given by Twitter to verified users in the public eye, including ministers and celebrities.

The formal proceedings follow a preliminary investigation in October that looked at the platform’s transparency report, and X’s replies to a formal request for information on issues including the dissemination of illegal content around the Hamas attacks against Israel.

Following Hamas’ attacks on Israel on October 7th, EU industry commissioner Thierry Breton sent letters to X, Meta, TikTok and Alphabet reminding them of their obligations under the DSA to tackle harmful and illegal content.

The platforms responded promptly to Mr Breton, highlighting steps they have taken to stop disinformation on their platforms but Mr Musk challenged Mr Breton over the disinformation charge.

Only X received a formal request for information under the DSA and has responded to the request.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) welcomed the investigation but called for urgent action against what it described as “toxic algorithms” on Twitter/X and other Big Tech platforms. It pointed to Coimisiún na Meán’s draft rules for video platforms that would compel them to stop building profiles on children.

“Coimisiún na Meán is leading the world by forcing Big Tech to turn off its toxic algorithms. Users – not Big Tech’s algorithms – should decide what they see and share online. The European Commission should learn from Coimisiún na Meán’s example, and give everyone in Europe the freedom to decide,” said Dr Johnny Ryan, a senior fellow of ICCL.

“Social media was supposed to bring us together. Instead, it tears us apart. Europe needs a rapid response to this problem, and Coimisiún na Meán has shown the way forward.” – Additional reporting: Reuters

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist