European Union regulators on Thursday opened an inquiry into X, the social media platform owned by Elon Musk, over the prevalence of gory videos and images, terrorism content and other illicit material it is carrying related to the Israel-Hamas war.
E.U. authorities formally requested information from X, once known as Twitter, the first step in what could become a wider investigation of the company. Regulators are examining whether X violated a new European law, the Digital Services Act, which requires large social media companies to stop the spread of illegal content, disinformation and other harmful material. Under the law, companies can be penalized up to 6 percent of their global revenues.
The war has intensified a simmering dispute between Mr. Musk, who believes in less content moderation on X and has reduced the size of teams that performed those roles, and regulators in the European Union, where free speech protections are more limited compared to the United States.
“The #DSA is here to protect both freedom of expression & our democracies — including in times of crisis,” Thierry Breton, the European commissioner behind the law, said on X.
The European Commission, the executive branch of the 27-nation bloc, said X had until Oct. 18 to provide information about crisis protocols put in place since the war began on Saturday, and until Oct. 31 to provide additional information about other policies it has in place to mitigate the spread of illicit content.
Linda Yaccarino, X’s chief executive, wrote a letter to Mr. Breton on Wednesday responding to earlier questions from the E.U. about content related to the war. In her letter, she said X had removed or labeled “tens of thousands” of pieces of content and responded to more than 80 requests from E.U. officials to remove illegal content since the conflict began.
A representative for X said the company had also shifted teams to focus on policing content related to the conflict and that it planned to add more transparency about its safety features.
Mr. Breton has also sent letters to Meta and TikTok asking about their policies on content related to the war.