Elon Musk’s social media giant X, formerly Twitter, has been targeted by pro-censorship commissioners at the EU. While this has been ongoing for some time, ever since Musk took over the platform last year, and since the introduction of the EU’s new censorship law “The Digital Services Act” came into force this summer, this is the first time X has faced a formal investigation.
The investigation was announced by the EU’s European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton, an unelected bureaucrat that has been pushing both formally and informally for X to censor more speech over the last year.
Currently, the European Commission is spearheading a stringent investigation into X’s operations, marking an unprecedented move under the parameters outlined by the DSA. Of the several concerns raised by the executive branch, they will chiefly be probing its potential breach of EU norms regarding risk management, data access, dark patterns, lack of content censorship, and transparency in advertising.
Of particular interest to the EU is the spread of alleged “disinformation.” Tackling it is part of the EU’s efforts to control global online speech, by equating “disinformation” with “harm.”
The issue of politicians regulating so-called “disinformation” online raises significant concerns regarding free speech and the centralization of power over public discourse. This controversy stems from the inherent subjectivity in defining disinformation, as much of what was once called “disinformation” and censored online turned out to be true.
When political figures or governmental bodies assume the role of arbiters in this domain, it risks establishing a precedent where speech is policed based on prevailing political ideologies or interests.
Such a scenario not only stifles diversity of thought and expression but also concentrates immense power in the hands of those who get to label content as disinformation. This power to define and control the flow of information could be wielded to suppress dissent, manipulate public opinion, or silence viewpoints, thereby posing a profound threat to the principles of free and open discourse that are foundational to democratic societies. The debate, therefore, is not just about combating falsehoods, but also about who holds the power to shape and constrain the boundaries of acceptable speech in the digital world.
This development is a blow to the X’s stability, already shaky following attempts by activists to call for censorship and demonetization on the platform.
In this scenario, X is expected to cooperate, at least according to the official X account.
In a statement X posted: “X remains committed to complying with the Digital Services Act and is cooperating with the regulatory process. It is important that this process remains free of political influence and follows the law. X is focused on creating a safe and inclusive environment for all users on our platform, while protecting freedom of expression, and we will continue to work tirelessly towards this goal.”
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