Of all the platforms Elon Musk’s X seems to have seen the most severe outbreak of fake news relating to the conflict.
Just hours after Hamas the militant Palestinian group has attacked Israel the previous Saturday X was the popular social platform operated by the world’s richest man Elon Musk, was inundated with fake photos, videos and inaccurate information about the war.
“Imagine that this were happening in our neighborhood, to your family members,” wrote Ian Miles Cheong, a extreme right-wing blogger who Musk frequently interacts with as well as the video Musk claimed to show Palestinian fighters executing Israeli citizens.
The Community Note, an X feature that allows users to give context to posts, noted that the persons in the video were part of Israeli law enforcement agencies, not Hamas.
However, the video is in the process of being uploaded and has earned millions of views. There are many other X accounts have posted the video on the platform, with some of them with authentic mark-ups, the Al Jazeera search showed.
Disinformation, or fake news deliberately disseminated about the war as well as the Israeli-Palestine conflict generally was spread to other social networks such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok also, however, due to Musk’s reformed policies that allow anyone to pay for being verified, and large cuts to the X Trust and Safety teams, the platform has been through the worst.
X, Meta, which is the owner of Facebook, Instagram and Threads, TikTok, and BlueSky has not responded to the request of Al Jazeera for clarification.
The following day, X declared there were more than 50 million messages on the platform during the weekend on the issue.
In the response, the company stated that it had deleted accounts that were newly created that were associated with Hamas as well as increased “tens thousand of post” that shared graphic content as well as hate speech and revised its guidelines which define what the platform finds to be “newsworthy”.
“These giant companies are puzzled by the rapid spread of misinformation, even though nobody is shocked about it.” stated Irina Raicu who is the director of the Internet Ethics Program at Santa Clara University.
“They provide numbers – the number of posts they’ve pulled down and the number of accounts they’ve blocked, and what settings you may prefer to alter if you do not want to see destruction. They don’t release is their measures of their failures, such as the number of distortions that were not associated with “Community Notes,” or labeled as such, and for the length of time. It’s left to researchers and journalists to record their mistakes after they occur.”
“Old and recycled footage”
In the past few years, terrorists have frequently made use of social media to spread misinformation as a response to actual conflict. In the year 2019, for instance, Twitter and Facebook were overrun with hoaxes and rumours following the fact that India and Pakistan both nuclear powerhouses, were brought close to war after Pakistan’s downing by two Indian warplanes as well as the arrest by the Indian pilot.
This week via X the platform, an individual dubbed The Indian Muslim shared a video that reads “More strength to you #Hamas” as well as claimed that the video showed an Hamas militant armed with an enormous shoulder-mounted rocket cannon, and destroying one Israeli helicopter.
Many disinformation researchers via social media as well as during interview in interviews with Al Jazeera, pointed out that the footage came from the game Arma 3. This post contains Community Notes on it, is still online and has over half one million views.
Another article by Jim Ferguson, a British social media influencer claims to depict Hamas soldiers armed with US weaponry “left by the side of Afghanistan that were used to attack Israel”.
However, according to Community Notes the image depicts Taliban soldiers in 2021 and not Hamas. Fergusson’s photo that is available on the platform has more than 10 million views.
Dina Sadek Dina Sadek, an Middle East research fellow at the Atlantic Council’s DFRLab she said to Al Jazeera that another false myth that her team was seeing appearing on platforms was that Hamas was receiving help from within Israel in preparing the attack.
“There’s old footage and recycled content being circulated online that’s confusing and makes it hard for viewers to tell the real from what’s real,” Sadek said.
Information about the attack is also moving across different platforms Sadek added. “Some TikTok videos find their way to X while some video that was originally posted on Telegram initially is later viewed by X,” she said.
“The stream of people disseminating hate and lies regarding the Israel-Gaza conflict in the last few days, coupled with algorithms that actively encourage disturbing and extreme content, is precisely why social media has become an unreliable source of accurate data,” Imran Ahmed, director of the Center for Countering Digital Hate and the Center for Countering Digital Hate, told Al Jazeera.
“Tech companies have shown themselves indifferent, if not completely at the forefront, in the dissemination of dangerous propagandism.”
CREDIT RELEASE: AL JAZEERA