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The European Union has instigated investigations into two technological titans, Meta, the company that owns Facebook, and TikTok. The probes focus on assessing the actions these two companies have taken to halt the proliferation of “illegal content and disinformation” in the aftermath of the recent Hamas assault on Israel and subsequent escalation of conflict.
Notably, this process represents the one of the first set of actions initiated under the newly minted EU legislation targeting online speech.
Prior to this, the EU had sparked similar inquiries into X. The request for information from Meta hinges specifically around the amplification and spread of “disinformation” and illicit content linked to the Israel-Hamas conflict. In a parallel vein, the EU is seeking to garner insight into TikTok’s strategy to combat the diffusion of terrorist provocation, violent material, and “hate speech.”
This legal altercation raises significant questions about internet censorship and its potential impact on free speech. With the EU demanding more details from Meta about its “mitigation measures to protect the integrity of elections,” there’s a looming fear of global tech behemoths capable of influencing political narratives and public opinion.
The two companies under probe have, respectively, October 25 and November 8 deadlines to answer to the EU’s demand for information, with the latter date serving for less urgent inquiries.
The DSA was enforced in August for “very large” platforms, encompassing Meta and TikTok, which boast more than 45 million monthly European users. The DSA threatens tech companies with potential fines equivalent to six percent of a firm’s global turnover if they permit the hosting of illegal online speech.
Thierry Breton, the EU’s chief tech enforcer, sent cautionary letters to various tech CEOs, such as TikTok’s Shou Zi Chew, Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai.
In response, Meta announced it was allocating special resources to tackle problematic and illegal content related to the Israel-Hamas conflict, exemplifying the pressure exerted by the EU’s censorship crusade.