May 23, 2024

EU Warns TikTok to Tackle Disinformation Amidst Hamas Videos

The European Union has issued a stern warning to social media platform TikTok, urging the company to take immediate action against the spread of disinformation on the ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel.

The authorities have given a 24-hour deadline to TikTok to demonstrate how it plans to ensure compliance with the established norms and protect its users.

Interestingly, TikTok is the third major social media platform, after X and Meta, to receive such a warning from the EU. This explains the EU’s strong stance to keep social media users, particularly children and teenagers, away from violent content and terrorist propaganda.

The EU’s concerns regarding disinformation on TikTok come in the wake of a surge in misinformation during the Hamas-Israel conflict. Officials have expressed concerns about manipulated images and mislabelled videos, which can have far-reaching consequences.

TikTok has a particular obligation to protect children & teenagers from violent content and terrorist propaganda as well as death challenges & potentially life-threatening content.Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner

The urgent request from the EU was delivered to Shou Zi Chew, CEO of Tiktok, demanding an outline of their compliance strategy in the next 24 hours.

In the last few days, the EU has issued warnings to X and Meta, the owners of Twitter and Instagram, over the spread of disinformation on the ongoing conflict.

Linda Yaccarino, the Chief Executive of X, reported that they had already flagged or removed “tens of thousands of pieces of content” following the conflict between Hamas and Israel. Besides, they have removed hundreds of accounts.

X responded to more than 80 requests in the EU to remove the content and added contextual notes to certain posts.

EU declined to comment on whether Meta had responded, but they acknowledged ongoing contact with the company’s compliance teams. Both X and Meta responded to the EU, detailing their efforts to combat disinformation.

Meta has come up with a special operations center with professionals proficient in Arabic and Hebrew to closely monitor and respond to the situation.

They are responsible for removing content that violates policies or local laws. The platform is also coordinating with third-party fact-checkers to mitigate the spread of misinformation. On the other hand, X stated that they had “redistributed resources and refocused internal teams” to address the issue.

Potential Consequences for Spreading Disinformation

It was just in August 2023 that the EU introduced its Digital Services Act (DSA). The Act makes it mandatory for “very large online platforms” to proactively remove “illegal content”.

This legal framework empowers the EU to carry out interviews and inspections. If they are not satisfied, they reserve the right to carry out a formal investigation.

Possible consequences for non-compliance include heavy fines and the temporary ban of the platform from the EU. This shows the EU’s commitment to ensure that tech giants adhere to the new laws to regulate online content effectively.

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