The European Commission has initiated a formal investigation into Meta to evaluate the company’s efforts in moderating political content, illegal material, and disinformation on its platforms, Facebook and Instagram. This comes in response to a surge in online pro-Russian propaganda ahead of the EU elections in early June. The probe aims to determine whether Meta has violated the Digital Services Act (DSA), which is designed to safeguard users and create safer online environments.

A particular focus of the investigation is Meta’s strategies for combating disinformation campaigns and coordinated inauthentic behavior within the EU. The European Commission is also raising concerns about the lack of effective third-party tools for monitoring elections and civic discourse, emphasizing worries that Meta is phasing out CrowdTangle without an adequate replacement.

Amidst allegations of Russian propaganda targeting almost every EU country ahead of the elections, EU leaders are calling for urgent action to counter external attempts to influence democratic processes. Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, stresses the importance of protecting European citizens from targeted disinformation and manipulation by third parties, asserting that violations of the rules will be addressed promptly.

The investigation will also evaluate how Meta handles deceptive advertising, its policies on reducing the visibility of political content, and the effectiveness of mechanisms for users to report illegal material. EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager warns against the risks associated with deceptive advertising, highlighting the potential impact on online discourse and individual rights as consumers and citizens.

While the European Commission has not set a deadline for the investigation, Meta faces potential fines of up to 6 percent of its annual turnover if found to be in breach of the DSA and fails to address the identified issues. The outcome of the probe could significantly impact Meta’s content moderation practices and its obligations to create a safer online environment for users.

The European Commission’s formal investigation into Meta’s content moderation practices underscores the growing concerns around political content, disinformation campaigns, and deceptive advertising on social media platforms. By holding big digital platforms accountable for their responsibilities in safeguarding users and maintaining the integrity of online discourse, the EU is signaling its commitment to upholding democratic values and protecting its citizens from external interference. Moving forward, the outcome of this investigation will likely have far-reaching implications for Meta and other tech companies as regulatory scrutiny over online content moderation continues to intensify.


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