Elon Musk was given 24 hours by the European Union on Tuesday to outline his strategies for better thwarting Hamas videos on the website X, formerly known as Twitter.
In a letter posted on X, E.U. Commissioner Thierry Breton said that X, which Musk bought last year, “is being used to disseminate illegal content and disinformation in the EU.” He warned of an investigation and potential penalties if Musk or the platform didn’t respond.
“We have, from qualified sources, reports about potentially illegal content circulating on your service despite flags from relevant authorities,” Breton said.
The growth of Hamas films on the website, which contravenes both the Digital Services Act and its prohibition against Terrorist Content Online, is of concern to the European Commission, the E.U.’s legislative and enforcement arm, according to a representative in an email.
“Content circulating online that can be associated to Hamas qualifies as terrorist content, is illegal, and needs to be removed under both DSA and TCO — as the organisations are listed on the EU’s terrorism list,” the spokesperson said.
In a statement posted on Monday, X’s @safety account said the company had “taken action under our Violent and Hateful Entities Policy to remove newly created Hamas-affiliated accounts and we’re currently coordinating with industry peers through @GIFCT_official to try and prevent terrorist content from being distributed online.”
X’s press team responded to an email requesting a comment with an automated reply that said, “Busy now, please check back later.”
Hundreds of civilians were killed in an onslaught by Hamas over the weekend that took Israel off guard. False and misleading information about the attacks has proliferated on social media in general, but especially on the platform X, where users who pay to be verified receive algorithmic boosts and appear to face little to no consequences for lying, sharing false footage, or recycling old or virtual footage that they claim is new footage of the conflict. The company’s trust and safety teams have frequently been slashed during Musk’s tenure.
Videos showing Russian leaders claiming that U.S. support for Israel would cause them to extend their military support for Palestine were misattributed in one organised propaganda effort on X. Millions of people have viewed it, and many of its accounts are still accessible.
“Public media and civil society organisations widely report instances of fake and manipulated images and facts circulating on your platform in the EU, such as repurposed old images of unrelated armed conflicts or military footage that actually originated from video games. This appears to be manifestly false or misleading information,” Breton said in the open letter.