EU concerned by high disinfo rate on Musk's X platform

The European Union's fight against disinformation has gained importance as awareness has grown of Russian attempts to sway European public opinion as it wages war in Ukraine. — AP

BRUSSELS: X, the online platform formerly known as Twitter, has the biggest proportion of disinformation of social networks scrutinised under a pilot analysis by the EU, a top official said Tuesday (Sept 26).

The analysis, carried out over three months in EU countries Spain, Poland and Slovakia, revealed that X was falling far short of an EU code of practice on anti-disinformation standards, European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova said.

Twitter was one of dozens of companies running social media networks that signed up to the voluntary code of practice when it was launched in 2018.

But after being taken over by Elon Musk, who has rebranded it X, the company withdrew from the EU code.

"X, formerly Twitter, who is not under the code anymore, is the platform with the largest ratio of mis- and dis-information posts," Jourova said.

She was speaking after the 44 companies still signed onto the code of practice – among them Facebook parent Meta, YouTube owner Google and Chinese-owned TikTok – handed in their first full reports of code compliance.

Though voluntary, aspects of the code underpin parts of new EU legislation known as the Digital Services Act, which entered force last month and which threatens massive fines of up to 6% of global turnover for companies found in breach.

"Mr Musk knows that he is not off the hook by leaving the code of practice, because now we have the Digital Services Act fully enforced," Jourova said.

"My message for Twitter is: you have to comply with the hard (DSA) law. We'll be watching what you're doing," she said.

The European Union's fight against disinformation has gained importance as awareness has grown of Russian attempts to sway European public opinion as it wages war in Ukraine.

Brussels is keen to have online platforms work hard to curtail misinformation and disinformation ahead of EU elections happening in June next year.

The risk posed by Russia's online tactics "is particularly serious," the commission vice president said.

"The Russian state has engaged in the war of ideas to pollute our information space."

She said that, between January and April, Google terminated more than 400 YouTube channels involved in "influence operations" linked to the Russian state and removed ads from 300 sites tied to Russian propaganda agencies.

Fact-check screenings on TikTok on shortform videos in Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian languages also resulted in 211 removals, she said, while Microsoft's Bing search engine has downgraded "questionable information" on hundreds of thousands of queries related to the war.

She said that work has also started on safeguards to prevent massive outflows of disinformation through generative artificial intelligence ahead of the European elections.

Jourova added that she was soon to meet representatives from OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT. – AFP

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