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Misinformation About Israel and Gaza Are Rampant on Social Media

Misinformation About Israel and Gaza Are Rampant on Social Media

In the digital age, where information is instant and omnipresent, Twitter has traditionally been the go-to hub for breaking news. But recent events surrounding the Israel-Hamas war reveal a distressing trend: the platform, now known as “X”, is not only failing to address misinformation but might be actively promoting it.

Under Elon Musk’s leadership, Twitter has undoubtedly transformed. Now, experts indicate that not only has the platform become unreliable, but it favors posts from its blue-check subscription service — available to anyone willing to pay a $8 a month. In turn, this has created a concerning incentive: accounts that go viral with their content can be eligible for payments from X — even misleading content.

Ian Bremmer, a renowned foreign policy analyst, voiced his concerns, stating that the disinformation regarding the Israel-Hamas war being “algorithmically promoted” on X is unparalleled in his experience. In particular, accounts are using AI-generated content to create fake scenes from Israel and Palestine to further disseminate misinformation.

But it’s not just X facing scrutiny. Platforms like TikTok, YouTube and Facebook are also grappling with an influx of misinformation about the war.

“People are desperate for information and social media context may actively interfere with people’s ability to distinguish fact from fiction,” said Gordon Pennycook, an associate professor of psychology at Cornell University who studies misinformation.

Rather than questioning the truth of a post, for example, users might be more inclined to share content that feels surprising or evokes anger.

A concerning revelation by Media Matters highlighted that misleading videos about the war, including out-of-context clips and dated footage presented as current, garnered millions of views from X’s premium subscribers. And while TikTok is seen as a less reliable source for real-time news, researcher Kolina Koltai warns that X’s platform is rife with users capitalizing on misinformation because of the viral nature of such content.

In response to the rise of misinformation, social media giants are at least attempting to rein in the misinformation. TikTok has share its collaborating with independent fact-checkers, while X acknowledged the surge in user activity around the conflict and confirmed they’re treating the situation as a crisis.

Pennycook warns that this cycle of misinformation during significant events has become a recurring pattern. He emphasizes the need for pre-emptive tools to combat misinformation.

Unfortunately, a reliable central hub for real-time information seems absent. For now, public policy experts suggest turning to reputable news outlets like AP or Reuters might be the safest approach.

© 2023 RELEVANT Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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