The European Union last week announced a formal investigation into the social media company X (formally Twitter) over its alleged failure to counter disinformation and illicit content, its lack of transparency surrounding advertising on the platform, and its “deceptive” design practices, the New York Times reported.
The inquiry marks the first time the European Union has used the authority granted by the passage of last year’s Digital Services Act (DSA) which gives regulators new powers to force social media companies to police their platforms for misinformation, hate speech, and other divisive content.
The European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, previously signaled that it would look closely at X’s practices. In October, EU regulators launched a preliminary inquiry into the spread of hate speech and violent and terrorist content on X following the October 7 Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel.
Margrethe Vestager, the commission’s executive vice president in charge of overseeing digital policy, said in a December 18 statement that the commission would “carefully investigate” whether X is compliant with the Digital Services Act “to ensure European citizens are safeguarded online.”
In a statement posted on X, the social media company said it is “committed to complying” with the DSA and has been cooperating with regulators. The company insisted that its focus is to create “a safe and inclusive environment” for its users, “while protecting freedom of expression.”
While online content remains largely unregulated in the US under the First Amendment, European governments frequently place restrictions on so-called “hate speech,” incitement of violence, and other content deemed harmful.
With the Digital Services Act, the European Union is seeking to compel social media companies to set up procedures to ensure they are consistently complying with rules surrounding online content.
The investigation into X is expected to include requests for further information from the company as well as interviews without outside groups. If the European Commission determines that X violated the DSA, the company could face fines of as much as 6 percent of its global revenue.