Saturday, July 20, 2024

Musk’s X Risks Fine as EU Steps Up Crackdown on Big Tech


(Bloomberg) — Elon Musk’s social media platform X is set to be served with a formal warning for failing to combat dangerous content, in the third show of force by European Union regulators against Big Tech in recent weeks.

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The escalation — which could eventually pave the way for fines of 6% of X’s revenue — is likely to be announced by Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton before the EU’s summer recess, according to people familiar with the case who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Should X not make the necessary changes to address the European Commission’s preliminary findings, the authority could proceed with a formal decision before the end of the year, the people said. After this, the company could face a financial penalty for non-compliance.

The warning shot against X follows the opening of an investigation by the EU’s regulators in December. Brussels watchdogs have made inquiries into platform’s handling of content after the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel. Regulators also have opened investigations into Meta Platforms Inc., AliExpress, and ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok.

The commission said its proceedings against X are ongoing and there are no time limits on the next step. X didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The EU’s DSA and the Digital Markets Act, or DMA, are two freshly minted laws that take aim at the most powerful online platforms. The EU has now ramped up enforcement of its new powers.

The DSA became legally enforceable last August, laying out content rules for social media platforms, online marketplaces and app stores. It forces their owners to clamp down on misinformation and objectionable content such as hate speech, terrorist propaganda and ads for unsafe toys. Regulators have also homed in on the creation of so-called rabbit holes on social media, which suck young users deeper and deeper into often inappropriate material.

The DMA regulation took hold on March 7, hitting big tech firms with a broad list of dos and don’ts based on decades of antitrust enforcement in the digital economy. The aim is to stop abusive conduct before its takes hold and allows the digital giants firms to dominate markets. The EU has just issued formal warnings to Apple Inc. and Meta over allegedly unfair practices under the DMA.

(Updates with details of other probes in seventh paragraph)

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