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Social media inundated with fake news depicting Hamas’ cruelty: Report

Social media inundated with fake news depicting Hamas’ cruelty: Report

Social media is seen to have been inundated with fake news and information about the ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel, with videos, photos, and misleading information depicting Israel as the victim of a brutal attack from Hamas.

Elon Musk's owned social media platform, X, stands out among its counterparts for hosting numerous posts of this nature. This can be attributed to Musk's revised policies, allowing individuals to pay for verification, coupled with significant layoffs in X's Trust and Safety teams. The platform seems to have borne the brunt of these challenges.

As the armed Palestinian group Hamas attacked Israel on Saturday, X became a hub for the spread of disinformation. Far-right commentator Ian Miles Cheong posted a video on X claiming it showed Palestinian fighters killing Israeli citizens.

However, a Community Note clarified that the individuals in the clip were members of Israeli law enforcement, not Hamas. Despite this, the video remains on the platform and has garnered millions of impressions, with several verified accounts also sharing it.

The disinformation extends beyond X to other social networks like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Musk's platform, however, seems to face unique challenges due to its policies that allow anyone to pay for verification and recent large-scale layoffs in the Trust and Safety teams.

X declared over 50 million posts on its platform over the weekend related to the conflict. In response, the company claimed to have removed newly created accounts affiliated with Hamas and escalated tens of thousands of posts for sharing graphic media and hate speech. The platform also updated its policies on defining what it considers "newsworthy."

Critics argue that tech giants, including X, struggle to effectively combat the proliferation of disinformation during conflicts. Irina Raicu, the director of the Internet Ethics Program at Santa Clara University, pointed out that these companies often share numbers of posts taken down and accounts blocked but fail to disclose metrics of their failures.

The disinformation on X includes posts using old and recycled footage, with users falsely claiming it depicts current events. For example, a user shared a video supposedly showing a Hamas fighter firing a rocket, but it was later revealed to be footage from a video game called Arma 3. Another post claimed to show Hamas soldiers using US weapons left behind in Afghanistan, but it actually depicted Taliban soldiers from 2021.

Disinformation is also observed crossing platforms, with content originating on TikTok finding its way to X and footage first appearing on Telegram and later surfacing on X.

The flood of misinformation surrounding the Israel-Gaza crisis, coupled with algorithms promoting extreme content, has raised concerns about the reliability of social media as a source of information.

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TAGS:Social MediaIsrael Palestine Conflict
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