X, formerly Twitter, is the first online platform to experience the full wrath of the Digital Services Act (DSA) — the EU’s landmark content moderation rulebook.
The DSA, which entered into force in November for 19 major platforms, sets a list of rules designed to protect users against harmful or illegal content, disinformation, and the violation of privacy and free speech.
But while big tech has so far rushed to comply, X isn’t doing a stellar job in the eyes of the Commission.
“Today’s opening of formal proceedings against X makes it clear that, with the DSA, the time of big online platforms behaving like they are ‘too big to care’ has come to an end,” said Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market.
“We now have clear rules, ex ante obligations, strong oversight, speedy enforcement, and deterrent sanctions and we will make full use of our toolbox to protect our citizens and democracies.”
The probe will focus on the dissemination of illegal content in the bloc and will evaluate X’s measures to stop “information manipulation” via its Community Notes system and other policies. Beyond content moderation, it will look into the suspected “deceptive design” of the Blue checks, data access to researchers, and advertising transparency.
“The higher the risk large platforms pose to our society, the more specific the requirements of the Digital Services Act are,” said Margrethe Vestager, executive VP of the EU. “We take any breach of our rules very seriously. And the evidence we currently have is enough to formally open a proceeding against X.”
The formal proceeding comes two months after Breton raised concerns over the spread of illegal content and disinformation on X, especially since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war. The Commissioner followed up with a letter to Elon Musk, while similar letters were also sent to Meta and TikTok.
Although Musk has reportedly flirted with the idea of removing X from the EU altogether, the social media platform today expressed its commitment to complying with the DSA.
X remains committed to complying with the Digital Services Act and is cooperating with the regulatory process. It is important that this process remains free of political influence and follows the law. X is focused on creating a safe and inclusive environment for all users on our…
— Safety (@Safety) December 18, 2023
Meanwhile, the Commission will continue to gather evidence and may take additional steps such as interim measures. There’s no legal deadline for the proceeding.