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Europe gives Zuckerberg 24 hours to respond about Israel-Hamas misinfo

Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives at federal court in San Jose, California, Dec. 20, 2022.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

European regulator Thierry Breton shared a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg Wednesday urging the billionaire to be “vigilant” about removing disinformation on his company’s platforms during the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict and ahead of upcoming elections.

Breton, the European commissioner for the internal market, said the European Union has been seeing an increase in illegal content and disinformation on “certain platforms” following the Hamas attack on Israel. Meta owns popular social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, as well as Threads, the company’s competitor for X, formerly known as Twitter.

Under the EU’s newly enacted Digital Services Act (DSA), Meta is responsible for monitoring and removing illegal content like terrorist content or illegal hate speech. The company also has to detail its protocols for doing so. Failure to comply with the European regulations around illegal content could result in fines worth 6% of a company’s annual revenue.

“I urgently invite you to ensure that your systems are effective,” Breton wrote in the letter, asking Zuckerberg to respond within the next 24 hours.

Meta did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Breton shared a similar letter addressed to Elon Musk, the owner of X, on Tuesday, which included a stern warning for Musk. Breton wrote that his office has “indications” that groups are spreading misinformation and “violent and terrorist” content about the Israel-Hamas conflict on the platform.

The letter to Musk came after numerous researchers, news organizations and other groups documented a rise of misleading, false and questionable content on X that contributed to confusion about the events.

In addition to disinformation surrounding the conflict in Israel, Breton wrote that the EU has received reports of manipulated content and deepfakes on Meta’s platforms ahead of the upcoming election in Slovakia. He said that misinformation about elections is taken “extremely seriously” under the DSA.

Breton asked Zuckerberg to share details of how Meta is addressing deepfakes and noted that elections are also approaching in Poland, Romania, Austria, Belgium and other countries.

“The DSA is here to protect free speech against arbitrary decisions, and at the same time protect our citizens and democracies,” Breton wrote in a post on Bluesky, another X competitor.

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