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Under EU pressure, X cracks down on pro-Hamas posts

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X — the social media platform previously known as Twitter — announced that it had removed hundreds of accounts affiliated with the Palestinian militant group Hamas and taken action on tens of thousands of pieces of content following Hamas’ recent attack on Israel.

According to an Oct. 12 Reuters report, the removal of Hamas-tied accounts and content came after Thierry Breton, the European Union’s industry chief, gave X CEO Linda Yaccarino a 24-hour ultimatum to address the spread of disinformation on the platform related to the Hamas assault. Breton threatened action, which would likely be taken under the EU’s new Digital Services Act (DSA) if the illegal content was not promptly dealt with.

On October 10th, Hamas launched a major attack on Israel, firing over 1,000 rockets toward major Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. This represented the largest attack from Hamas since the 11-day war in May 2021. At least 7 Israelis were killed in the attacks. The Israeli military responded with airstrikes targeting Hamas installations in Gaza.

Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, the European Union, and other nations. However, it has gained support among some Palestinians for its resistance to Israeli occupation. This latest flare-up came amid heightened tensions in the region.

In the aftermath of the attack, EU officials accused X of failing to curb the spread of disinformation and violent extremist content related to the conflict. Examples included posts celebrating the Hamas rocket attacks, calls for further violence targeting Israelis, and claims that Israel had staged “false flag” attacks to justify aggression against Palestinians.

The DSA, which came into effect in November 2022, aims to control illegal and harmful content online. It requires platforms like X and Facebook to have content moderation systems in place and remove illegal material like hate speech, terrorism propaganda, and child sexual abuse images quickly.

Breton warned that failure to comply could lead to hefty fines of up to 6% of a company’s global revenue. This threat prompted X’s crackdown on Hamas-tied accounts spreading disinformation.

In her reply to Breton, X CEO Linda Yaccarino said the platform had redirected internal resources to address the situation following Hamas’ attack. She stated that over 80 takedown requests from EU authorities had been addressed within the required timeline.

Specific actions included removing hundreds of accounts tied to Hamas, moderating or labeling tens of thousands of posts related to the conflict and assembling a team to monitor the situation. Yaccarino said X remains willing to cooperate further with EU regulators to address concerns over illegal content. However, she maintained that X had not received any notification from Europol relating to unlawful material on its platform.

The EU is expected to analyze X’s response and decide if further action is necessary to ensure compliance with the DSA’s requirements. The crackdown highlights how regulators are increasingly tough on digital media platforms’ handling of dangerous disinformation and extremism online.

Featured Image Credit: freepik; Thank you!

Radek Zielinski

Radek Zielinski is an experienced technology and financial journalist with a passion for cybersecurity and futurology.

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