European Commissioner Thierry Breton warned some of Silicon Valley’s top social media players that Europe requires them to take prompt action to stop the spread of disinformation about the Israel-Hamas war.
(Bloomberg) — European Commissioner Thierry Breton warned some of Silicon Valley’s top social media players that Europe requires them to take prompt action to stop the spread of disinformation about the Israel-Hamas war.
Breton told Meta Platforms Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg that following the terrorist attacks, some platforms were responsible for a surge of illegal content in the European Union. He asked Meta to respond within 24 hours to ensure the company’s systems are effective in a letter posted Wednesday to Breton’s new account on the social media site Bluesky and later posted on X.
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He also asked Zuckerberg to inform the commission about measures the company has taken to decrease convincing-but-fake media known as deepfakes, given a number of elections coming up in Europe.
The war is one of the first major tests of the EU’s Digital Services Act that went into force earlier this year. Social media companies like Meta and X, formerly known as Twitter, are now required to hire more content moderators and use risk mitigation methods to decrease the spread of harmful content. Companies that fail to comply could face fines as high as 6% annual revenue or even be banned from the bloc if they repeatedly break the rules.
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In an emailed statement, a Meta spokesperson said the company had established a special operations center staffed with Hebrew and Arabic speakers after the attacks to monitor content on its platforms.
“Our teams are working around the clock to keep our platforms safe, take action on content that violates our policies or local law, and coordinate with third-party fact checkers in the region to limit the spread of misinformation,”the spokesperson said. “We’ll continue this work as this conflict unfolds.”
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Breton sent a similar letter Tuesday to Elon Musk, the owner of X, warning the world’s richest man that his social network is spreading illegal content and calling on him to take quick action.
Musk fought back against the claims, telling Breton in public posts to discuss concerns on his social network instead of through letters or other channels.
Musk and Breton have developed a rapport over the past year, in part through their shared affection for semiconductors and satellites. Before Musk purchased Twitter, Breton flew to Texas and got Musk to film an awkward video saying he agreed with the EU’s ideas about content moderation.
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Breton paid a visit to X during his tour of Silicon Valley in June and greeted Linda Yaccarino, then less than three weeks on the job as chief executive officer. Musk joined the meeting remotely for a “stress test” of the platform’s ability to comply with the DSA and assured him at the time that he planned to comply with the laws.
In a sign that relationship may be fraying, on Wednesday, Breton opened an account on Bluesky, writing “feels less crowded — yet more human — without all those bots.”
(Updates with Meta comments from fifth paragraph)
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