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The EU's top tech enforced warned Alphabet to be wary of potential "illegal content" on YouTube Alamy Stock Photo
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EU extends warning about disinformation surrounding Israel-Hamas war to YouTube bosses

Fake or manipulated images have been uploaded to the app in recent days, an EU Commissioner said.

LAST UPDATE | Oct 13th 2023, 7:12 PM

THE EUROPEAN UNION has extended its warning to TikTok about illegal material and disinformation surrounding the war between Israel and Hamas to Google and YouTube.

The EU’s top tech enforcer, Commissioner Thierry Breton, warned Google parent Alphabet to be wary of potential “illegal content and disinformation” on its YouTube platform.

In the latest in a series of messages to tech CEOs that has already seen him sparring with Elon Musk on X, formerly Twitter, the EU industry commissioner wrote to Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai.

The letter was also posted online on the Bluesky social media platform, an upstart rival to Musk’s X, and warns YouTube to comply with the terms of the EU’s new Digital Services Act (DSA).

“Following the terrorist acts carried out by Hamas against Israel, we are seeing a surge of illegal content and disinformation being disseminated in the EU via certain platforms”, Breton wrote.

Fake or manipulated images, including old videos falsely claiming to show events in recent days, have been uploaded to the app, according to a letter sent earlier to TikTok’s CEO.

The EU Commission is coming down against social media giants with more force since new legislation called the Digital Services Act came into effect two months ago, requiring platforms to remove content that is illegal under EU law or in individual member states, or risk facing massive fines.

TikTok is the latest app to receive a warning after Meta (Facebook and Instagram) and X (formerly known as Twitter) were cautioned in recent days.

EU Commission Thierry Breton has written to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew to alert him that “following the terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas against Israel, we have indications that TikTok is being used to disseminate illegal content and disinformation in the EU”. 

“Given that your platform is extensively used by children and teenagers, you have a particular obligation to protect them from violent content depicting hostage taking and other graphic videos which are reportedly widely circulating on your platform, without appropriate safeguards,” Breton said.

“As many users, particularly minors, turn to your platform as a source of news, reliable sources should be adequately differentiated from terrorist propaganda.”

He told the company that it must respond within the next 24 hours and take action to resolve the issue.

Earlier this year, Ireland appointed its first Digital Services Commissioner under the newly established media regulator Coimisiún na Meán. The role is intended to focus on protecting users of digital services from illegal or harmful content online.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland this morning, Digital Services Commissioner John Evans said that “misinformation and disinformation online can be used by different actors for different purposes”.

“It’s a problem. It becomes much more aggravated at times of crisis when people are seeking out news and a malicious actor spots opportunities to exploit that,” Evans said.

“It’s right, I think, that Commissioner Breton has written to the platforms to remind them of what their responsibilities are.”