The European Union announced Monday it is investigating billionaire Tesla founder Elon Musk and his social media platform X for possible violations of the Digital Services Act.
European Commissioner Thierry Breton said in a statement on X, formerly Twitter, that “Today we open formal infringement proceedings against @X” under the Digital Services Act. Breton cited a “Suspected breach of obligations to counter” illegal content and disinformation, transparency obligations, and suspected deceptive design of the user interface.
Today we open formal infringement proceedings against @X :
⚠️ Suspected breach of #Transparency obligations
— Thierry Breton (@ThierryBreton) December 18, 2023
Breton is a French business executive and politician who currently serves as the Commissioner for Internal Market of the European Union.
The 2022 law passed by the 27-nation European Union put a set of rules in place for social media companies purported to keep online consumers safe. But critics believe lawmakers put the law in place to help European authorities crack down on free speech. The probe into X is the first of its kind under the new law.
The European Union has vowed to permanently shut down X if Elon Musk doesn’t immediately ban alternative media from the platform.
Because EU won’t survive with free speech. pic.twitter.com/XG1tG8XEAw
— Dr. Anastasia Maria Loupis (@DrLoupis) December 19, 2023
According to European Commission spokesman Johannes Bahrke, the executive branch of the EU “will now investigate X’s systems and policies related to certain suspected infringements.” He said that investigators will “not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.”
The probe will focus on how X manages content that is deemed illegal under European law. That includes content alleged to be hate speech or disinformation as well as terrorist content related to the Israel-Hamas war. Investigators will also review the Community Notes fact-checking system on X.
“X remains committed to complying with the Digital Services Act and is cooperating with the regulatory process,” X said in response to the probe. “It is important that this process remains free of political influence and follows the law.” The statement emphasized that the social media platform is committed to “protecting freedom of expression” for its users.
The probe is the most significant attempt by any jurisdiction in the Western democratic world of government to regulate speech on a social media platform. While the months-long investigation does not constitute wrongdoing, it could lead to fines of up to 6% of X global revenue according to European law.