The European Union (EU) has formally requested that technology giants TikTok and Meta provide information to address concerns about potential disinformation spread on their platforms related to the Israel-Gaza conflict. This move represents a substantial shift from a previous request that lacked legal backing. Now, with the enforcement power of the latest legislation, both companies have one week to respond.
The EU has expressed its concern over the potential proliferation of content inciting violence, hatred, or terrorism in the wake to Hamas’ assault on Israel. If the responses from Meta and TikTok are unsatisfactory, the EU could initiate a formal investigation under its new technology regulations.
A spokesperson from TikTok assured that the company is committed to its European community’s safety and plans to release a transparency report soon. Similarly, a representative from Meta confirmed their round-the-clock efforts to maintain platform safety and coordinate with third-party fact-checkers to combat misinformation.
This significant EU demand comes just a week after a similar request was sent to the company formerly known as Twitter, in response to which it supposedly removed hundreds of Hamas-affiliated accounts. Social media platforms have been witnessing an alarming deluge of false information related to the Israel-Hamas conflict, including manipulated images and wrongly labeled footage.
In October the EU commissioner Thierry Breton sent letters to the chief executives of Meta, TikTok, the ex-Twitter, and Google, mandating a response within 24 hours. However, these were not legally binding demands. Presently, the EU is taking a more stringent approach with the Digital Services Act (DSA), which imposes obligatory deadlines for responses. Failing to adhere to the DSA could attract serious penalties such as significant fines up to 6% of a company’s global turnover or even platform suspension.
The new demand set by the Commission requires Meta and TikTok to meet two deadlines. Firstly, information on the companies’ crisis response is due by October 25. Secondly, they must answer questions regarding the protection of election integrity by November 8. Specifically, TikTok must also outline its measures to safeguard minors online.
These tech firms have been caught in a whirlwind of requests and demands from different governing bodies, increasing the pressure to ensure they remain in line with the legalities of content distribution. The EU’s firm stance is a clear indication that it expects enterprises like Meta and TikTok to actively participate in the war against online disinformation and to foster safer digital online environments.