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Under EU guidelines likely to be adopted next week, Elon Musk’s X, TikTok, Facebook and other major online platforms are expected to act to mitigate risks to elections or face fines, a European Commission official said on Wednesday.

The EU executive had in February announced the draft guidelines, part of the Digital Services Act (DSA) which requires Big Tech to do more to tackle illegal and harmful content on their platforms.

Concerns over election interference and misleading AI-generated content have escalated in the run-up to the European Parliament elections in June.

“The Commission will use these guidelines as a kind of check list. They are not legally binding on the platforms. The companies are free to choose how to mitigate risks,” a Commission official said.

“If the platforms do not address the risks, they can be fined under the DSA.”

As big technology companies and search engines play a big role in “shaping public opinion and voter behaviour, it is key that they take effective measures to mitigate risks related to electoral processes,” a Commission spokesperson said.

The Commission’s guidelines will “further specify risk mitigations measures and best practices, notably around generative AI content,” the spokesperson said.

Companies will face fines as much as 6 per cent of their annual global turnover for breaching the Digital Services Act.

Facebook parent Meta Platforms META-Q, YouTube parent Google and TikTok have in recent weeks announced various measures, including setting up teams to counter disinformation, AI abuse and covert influence relating to the European Parliament elections.

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