Saturday, December 9, 2023

X (Twitter) verified people generate 75% of fake news about Israel and Palestine

He conflict between Israel and Palestine has given rise to a wave of misinformation on the internet, with X (Twitter) being the platform that produces the most content of this type. According to a study by NewsGuard, Verified users generate 74% of fake news and many go viral. Paying accounts not only get the blue badge, but also priority in the algorithm for spreading fake news

The study analyzed the 250 posts with the highest engagement (likes, forwards, etc.) that promoted one of 10 false narratives about the bombing of Palestine. According to the data, 186 of them come from verified X users. In just one week, this content registered 1,349,979 interactions and was viewed more than 100 million times around the world.

Among the list of false or unfounded news are the video of Palestinian children in cages, the montage of an Israeli child murdered by Hamas or the theory that the initial attack is the work of Israel and the West. While misinformation occurs on other platforms, NewsGuard decided to focus on X, since it is the only one that has reduced content moderation.

The organization used Misinformation Fingerprints, a system that extracts and catalogs the main false narratives spread online. Each is captured as a data seed that contains specific characteristics, such as links, hashtags, or keywords that spread misinformation.

According to NewsGuard, most fake news related to Israel’s bombing of Palestine goes viral on X (Twitter) before spreading to platforms such as TikTok or Instagram. Although the social network has a function to tag and give context to each publication, it fails to discredit the fake news.

Twitter (X), a nest of misinformation about Israel and Palestine?

The study of NewsGuard brings out one of the most criticized problems of X during Elon Musk’s management. One of the magnate’s first moves after buying the social network was fire the moderation team. Musk believes that it is harmful for the company to be responsible for determining what is true or what can be said, since it violates freedom of expression.

To counteract the lack of moderationX (Twitter) implemented the Community Notes, a system in which people collaboratively add context to potentially misleading posts. Although the intention is good, its availability is limited and in some cases it is abused. In the Israel-Palestine conflict, NewsGuard ensures that this function failed to debunk false information 70% of the time.

“In the first week of the war between Israel and Hamas, the analysis found that these fact checks were inconsistently applied to the main hoaxes related to the conflict,” the organization mentions. Another drawback they mention is that community notes were not applied effectively in narratives such as the slaughter of Palestinian children since 2008 or the million-dollar economic package that the United States would send to Israel.

X (Twitter) has not sanctioned users who spread false information. The study identified seven verified accounts, some with hundreds of thousands of followers, that have been promoting disinformation since before the conflict. Some of them were suspended, but were reactivated after the arrival of Elon Musk.

X’s algorithm is an ally of fake news

Although misinformation comes from both fronts, it is important to mention that X Premium is the main culprit. Democratizing the blue badge allows anyone to have a verified account, so the symbol of notoriety or trust is lost. Added to this, the algorithm favors those who pay a subscriptionso your publications have greater visibility.

Elon Musk’s strategy not only makes it difficult to identify false content, but is playing against you in finances. The company has lost hundreds of advertisers since the tycoon’s arrival due to a lack of moderation. Some brands are afraid that their ads will appear next to a tweet with hate speech, so they decided to try their luck on other platforms.

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