A prominent European Union official has issued a warning to X, formerly known as Twitter, labeling it as the primary source of fake news and urging its owner, Elon Musk, to adhere to the EU’s regulations designed to combat disinformation.
In light of upcoming elections and the pervasive threat of disinformation emanating from Russia, several tech giants, including Google, TikTok, Microsoft, and Meta, have also been called upon to intensify their efforts to tackle this pressing issue. European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova highlighted the scale of Moscow’s disinformation campaign, characterizing it as a “multimillion-euro weapon of mass manipulation” targeting not only Russians but also Europeans and the rest of the world.
With impending elections in Slovakia and Poland and a continent-wide vote on the horizon, the urgency of addressing online meddling and disinformation cannot be overstated. Jourova underscored the risk of hostile actors, such as the Kremlin, exploiting the inherent design features of these platforms for manipulative purposes.
Jourova provided an update on the European Union’s 2022 Code of Practice on Disinformation, a voluntary commitment to combat disinformation signed by Google, TikTok, Microsoft, and Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram. Notably, Twitter had initially been a part of this initiative but withdrew after Elon Musk acquired the platform.
According to Jourova, X now holds the unenviable distinction of being “the platform with the largest ratio of mis- or disinformation posts.” A recent study conducted by the European Commission across Poland, Slovakia, and Spain identified Twitter as having the highest prevalence of disinformation and the largest ratio of disinformation actors. The report emphasized that Twitter’s discoverability of disinformation is a significant concern.
In a direct message to Elon Musk, Jourova asserted that he cannot evade responsibility simply because Twitter withdrew from the voluntary code. The code has now been integrated into the Digital Services Act, a set of stringent European regulations that subject major online platforms, including X, to the highest level of scrutiny. Under this code, online platforms commit to taking measures to reduce disinformation and must regularly submit reports outlining their efforts.