European Commission opens formal proceedings against X under the Digital Services Act

December 20, 2023

The European Commission has opened formal proceedings to assess whether X may have breached the DSA in areas linked to risk management, content moderation, dark patterns, advertising transparency and data access for researchers.

Following its preliminary investigation, including the risk assessment report submitted by X in September, X’s Transparency report published on 3 November, and X’s replies to a formal request for information, which, among other things, concerned the dissemination of illegal content in the context of Hamas’ terrorist attacks against Israel, the Commission has decided to open formal infringement proceedings against X under the Digital Services Act.

The proceedings will focus on the following areas:

  • The compliance with the DSA obligations related to countering the dissemination of illegal content in the EU, notably in relation to the risk assessment and mitigation measures adopted by X to counter the dissemination of illegal content in the EU, as well as the functioning of the notice and action mechanism for illegal content in the EU mandated by the DSA, considering X’s content moderation resources.
  • The effectiveness of measures taken to combat information manipulation on the platform, notably the effectiveness of X’s so-called ‘Community Notes’ system in the EU and the effectiveness of related policies mitigating risks to civic discourse and electoral processes.
  • The measures taken by X to increase the transparency of its platform. The investigation concerns suspected shortcomings in giving researchers access to X’s publicly accessible data as mandated by Article 40 of the DSA, as well as shortcomings in X’s ads repository.
  • A suspected deceptive design of the user interface, especially in relation to checkmarks linked to certain subscription products, the so-called Blue checks.

If proven, these failures would constitute infringements of Articles 34(1), 34(2) and 35(1), 16(5) and 16(6), 25(1), 39 and 40(12) of the DSA. The Commission will now carry out an in-depth investigation as a matter of priority. The opening of formal infringement proceedings does not prejudge its outcome.

These are the first formal proceedings launched by the Commission to enforce the DSA.

Next steps

The Commission will continue to gather evidence, for example by sending additional requests for information, conducting interviews or inspections. The opening of formal proceedings means that the Commission can take further enforcement steps, such as interim measures, and non-compliance decisions. The Commission can accept any commitment made by X to remedy on the matters subject to the proceedings.

The DSA does not set any legal deadline for bringing formal proceedings to an end. The duration of an in-depth investigation depends on several factors, including the complexity of the case, the extent to which the company concerned cooperates with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence. The opening of formal infringement proceedings does not prejudge its outcome.