Short video app TikTok announced that it has mobilized resources and personnel to combat “hate and misinformation” that is emerging in light of Palestinian Islamist group Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel.
On Thursday, Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market for the European Union and the bloc’s top tech enforcer, warned the social media giant of promoting “illegal content and disinformation” on its platform. Breton demanded the Chinese-owned company respond within 24 hours with details on how it plans to curb online disinformation.
EU Orders TikTok To Take Down Content Spreading Misinformation On Israel-Hamas War
In a letter to TikTok CEO Shou Zi, the EU Commissioner said that since the platform is “extensively” used by children and teenagers, the company has an obligation to protect its consumers from violent content depicting “graphic videos” such as hostage-taking and killing that are widely circulating without appropriate safeguards.
Brenton pointed out that TikTok and its large social media rivals like X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, and Instagram are subject to the EU’s new Digital Services Act (DSA) that requires online platforms with over 10 million users to crack down on content that is deemed illegal or inappropriate under the laws of any EU nation.
On Sunday, TikTok listed the actions it has taken to tackle the issue of disinformation surrounding the Israel-Hamas conflict. In a statement, the company said it stands against terrorism and was “shocked” and “appalled” by the horrific acts of terror that had occurred in Israel over the past ten days.
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TikTok Has Already Removed 500,000 Videos And 8,000 Livestreams From The Region
The short-form video-sharing platform has launched a command center with more Arabic and Hebrew-speaking moderators. TikTok will also remove any content that attacks or mocks victims of violence or media that incites violence of any shape or form. It has also updated its automated detection systems to monitor, detect, and remove content it deems graphic or violent. The company has also added restrictions on its live broadcasting feature and is working with law enforcement agencies on content moderation.
So far, TikTok has removed 500,000 videos and shut down 8,000 livestreams stemming from the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region.
EU Commissioner Breton also sent letters to X owner Elon Musk and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, stating that his request was urgent and required an immediate response from the companies or their platforms would face a ban across Europe.
According to a report by Bellingcat, an international investigative journalism group that specializes in fact-checking and open-source intelligence, there has been a surge in misinformation and disinformation related to Hamas’ attack in Israel.
EU’s DSA Social Media Regulation Could Combat Online Disinformation
Any violation of the DSA can be met with “mandatory remedial measures” to stop such content from spreading across social platforms or imposing fines that could reach up to 6% of the accused company’s global turnover. A worst-case scenario would be a potential ban on the platform in Europe.
Brenton’s letter, which was posted on his X account, contained examples of false or misleading videos that were posted on X, TikTok, Instagram, and several other social media platforms. The commission also found several controversial and graphic videos related to the war on Telegram, but could not take action against the platform due to it not being subject to the DCA until February 2024.