EU Crackdown on X for Illegal Content and Disinformation

X (formerly Twitter) is facing even more condemnation from the European Commission as it caps off a year of criticism and legal action. The Commission has opened formal infringement proceedings into X’s potential violations of the Digital Services Act (DSA). Thierry Breton, the European commissioner for internal market, shared the news on X, highlighting the platform’s suspected breach of obligations to be transparent and to counter illegal content, as well as its potentially “deceptive design.”

The Commission will investigate X’s Community Notes feature to determine its effectiveness in mitigating risks to civic discourse and electoral processes. It will also address suspected shortcomings in X’s decision to limit access to its data firehose, potentially affecting researchers and public bodies. The company’s advertising platform and features like paid checkmarks are also under scrutiny for deceptive design.

Starting in February 2023, all online services operating in the EU had to declare their size to determine if they were a Very Large Online Platform (VLOP). VLOPs, or platforms with over 45 million users across the EU, had to comply with the DSA within four months, including establishing a specific point of contact, transparency in advertising and content moderation, and identifying and mitigating risks such as illegal content and protecting minors.

The Commission’s actions come following a risk assessment report from X in September, a transparency report the platform published in November, and ongoing concerns about how X is handling content about the Israel-Hamas War. Breton sent a letter to Elon Musk about the platform’s responsibility to moderate posts in line with the DSA, leading to the Commission’s investigation.

Breton emphasized that the proceedings mark the end of “big online platforms behaving like they are ‘too big to care’,” and highlighted the EU’s clear rules, oversight, enforcement, and deterrent sanctions to protect citizens and democracies. This is the first time the Commission has opened formal proceedings to enforce these EU regulations.