European Union regulators have reprimanded Elon Musk after X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, was found to contain a higher proportion of misinformation and disinformation in a new report. “X, formerly Twitter… is the platform with the highest share of misinformation/disinformation followed by Facebook,” said European Commissioner for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová. in comments reported by The Guardian.
The comments coincided with the publication of a new series of reports as part of the EU Code of Practice on Disinformation. These included a third-party analysis. by TrustLab, which says that the discoverability of posts containing misinformation and disinformation was higher in X, meaning that for a given search containing “misinformation keywords” a higher proportion of results contained misinformation and disinformation. The TrustLab report, which covers disinformation in EU member states Poland, Slovakia and Spain, also says that the proportion of disinformation actors was highest in X.
In terms of engagement, TrustLab’s report says that misinformation and disinformation content engaged more on X, on average, compared to non-misinformation and disinformation content, resulting in the highest relative engagement of the platforms analyzed. But in absolute terms, engagement with misinformation and disinformation content on X was lower than on TikTok, YouTube, and Facebook.
X, then known as Twitter, signed up to comply with the voluntary rulebook last year along with Meta, Microsoft and Google, but withdrew from the agreement in May 2023. As such, while it was included in TrustLab’s third-party reporting, X has not reported data alongside other major tech companies. X was previously criticized by the EU before formally abandoning the code of practice, which said its initial report from earlier this year was “Data is scarce and there is no information on commitments to empower the fact-checking community.“
“Mr. Musk knows that he will not be exempt from abandoning the code of practice”
Although the code of practice is voluntary for now, it is seen as a precursor to the new EU Digital Services Act, which came into force in August and which Twitter and other designated very large online platforms will have to approve. fully comply with early next year. “The new Code of Practice will be supported by the DSA, including strong deterrent sanctions,” EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said in a statement when the code was announced last year. “Very large platforms that repeatedly breach the Code and do not carry out adequate risk mitigation measures risk fines of up to 6% of their global turnover.”
“Mr Musk knows that he will not be spared from abandoning the code of practice,” Jourová said, according to The Guardian. “There are obligations under hard law. So my message to Twitter/X is that they must comply. We will be watching what you do.”
Away from X, the self-reported data sheds light on the scale of the tech giant’s efforts to combat misinformation on its platforms. Google, for example, says it rejected more than 140,000 political ads in the EU “for not passing the identity verification process,” while Microsoft said it restricted or blocked the creation of 6.7 million fake LinkedIn accounts in the EU. EU in the first half of this year. TikTok says it removed more than 140,000 videos for violating its misinformation policy, while Meta applied fact-checking labels to more than 40 million pieces of content on Facebook and Instagram.
The EU press release specifically calls for efforts to stop the spread of misinformation about Russia’s war in Ukraine. Google reports that it has removed 411 YouTube channels linked to Russia’s state-backed Internet Research Agency, while TikTok removed 211 videos after verifying them. “The Russian state has engaged in a war of ideas to pollute our information space with half-truths and lies to create a false image that democracy is no better than autocracy,” the EU’s Jourová warned.