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Commission opens formal probe into X
Pic: Shutterstock

18 Dec 2023 / technology Print

EU Commission opens formal probe into X

The European Commission has opened formal proceedings to look at whether the social-media platform X (formerly Twitter) may have breached EU law on digital services.

The proceedings, the first being taken under the Digital Services Act (DSA), are linked to risk management, content moderation, dark patterns, advertising transparency, and data access for researchers.

The commission said that the move followed a preliminary investigation conducted on the basis of an analysis of a risk-assessment report submitted by X in September, X's transparency report published on 3 November, and X's replies to a formal request for information.

The proceedings concern, among other issues, “the dissemination of illegal content in the context of Hamas's terrorist attacks against Israel”, the EU body stated.

DSA obligations

It added that the probe would focus on the following areas:

  • Compliance with DSA obligations related to countering the dissemination of illegal content in the EU,
  • The effectiveness of measures taken to combat information manipulation on the platform, notably the effectiveness of X's so-called ‘Community Notes' system in the EU, and the effectiveness of related policies on risks to civic discourse and electoral processes,
  • Measures taken by X to increase the transparency of its platform. The commission says that the investigation concerns suspected shortcomings in giving researchers access to X’s publicly accessible data as mandated by article 40 of the DSA, and
  • A suspected deceptive design of the user interface, notably in relation to checkmarks linked to certain subscription products (the so-called ‘blue’ checks).

The commission points out that the opening of formal infringement proceedings does not pre-judge the outcome.

VLOP designation

X was designated as a VLOP (very large online platform) under the DSA earlier this year.

“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, small picture).

“We will now start an in-depth investigation of X’s compliance with the DSA obligations concerning countering the dissemination and amplification of illegal content and disinformation in the EU, transparency of the platforms, and design of the user interface,” he concluded.

Coimisiún na Meán has said that it will be providing assistance to the European Commission in this investigation.

The media watchdog will enforce the DSA in Ireland from 17 February 2024, when the legislation becomes fully applicable, and its formal powers as Ireland’s Digital Services Coordinator come into effect.

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