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EU says Elon Musk's X is biggest source of disinformation

September 26, 2023

X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, is not a signatory to the EU-wide code of conduct to crack down on fake news on social media platforms and advertising companies.

The X logo (formerly Twitter) on a smartphone screen
Social media platforms for the first reported back with concrete details about upholding regulatory standardsImage: Chris Delmas/AFP

The social media network X, formerly known as Twitter, is the biggest source of fake news, a top European official said Tuesday.

European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova said that X, which is not a signatory to a European Union-wide code of conduct to crack down on fake news on social media platforms and advertising companies, has the "largest ratio of mis/disinformation posts."

Jourova said at a press briefing about updates to the 2022 Code of Practice on Disinformation that Elon Musk was not "off the hook" because his company had dropped out of the code of practice.

What is the EU code of conduct on fake news?

The code of conduct is a set of regulatory standards to have companies like Google, TikTok, Microsoft and Meta do more to tackle fake news in the 27-member bloc. It was built on an earlier version that was published in 2018.

"There are obligations given by the hard law, so my message for Twitter is: 'You have to comply with the hard law, and we will be watching what you are doing,'" she said. 

The code underpins the Digital Services Act, which became law last year and imposes strict rules about content moderation.

With parliamentary elections scheduled in Slovakia on September 30 and presidential elections scheduled in Poland on October 15, it was important for the platforms to address the risks of online meddling, she added in a statement.

One of her main messages to the companies listed in the code of practice was to be aware of context as Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine drags on.

"This is not business as usual. The Kremlin fights with bombs in Ukraine, but with words everywhere else, including in the EU," she said in the statement.

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Russian troll factory inflicting harm on digital society

Jourova said the Russian state has a "a multi-million euro weapon of mass manipulation aimed both internally at the Russians as well as at Europeans and the rest of the world" to cater to its own narrative.

She urged companies to address the risk as they "expect that the Kremlin and others will be active before elections."

Google said between January and April 2023, YouTube terminated more than 400 channels involved in coordinated influence operations linked to the Russian-troll factory Internet Research Agency.

Meta said it expanded its fact-checking partnerships to 26 partners covering 22 languages in the EU, which now includes Czech and Slovak, while TikTok's fact-checking efforts covers Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian and 17 European languages.

Edited by: Jenipher Camino Gonzalez

Roshni Majumdar Roshni is a writer at DW's online breaking news desk and covers stories from around the world.@RoshniMaj