A recently released report suggests that some of the most extensive providers of misinformation concerning the Israel-Hamas war on the Elon Musk’s X platform are premium, “verified” accounts. These accounts, which are financially rewarded by the platform previously referred to as Twitter, pay a monthly fee to enhance the visibility of their posts.
Determining the truth within any conflict can quickly become a complex issue, as differing sides often promote conflicting narratives. However, some claims which have been objectively and concretely debunked still continue to experience viral success through millions of views by X users. This has occurred, in part, due to changes implemented on the platform by Musk, as discovered by NewsGuard, an internet truth analysis company.
NewsGuard identified seven accounts as “misinformation super spreaders,” which have propagated extensively discredited allegations related to the enduring conflict. These accounts, they stated, are capitalizing on alterations made to X’s verification policy that advances posts from users willing to pay the platform $8 monthly. They further importantly highlight that verified users are eligible to receive payments from the platform, financially encouraging posts from users who are actively disseminating misinformation.
The most circulated misconceptions on X about the war include videos recycled from previously unrelated conflicts utilized to propagate false allegations about Israel and Hamas. NewsGuard examined 250 of the most engaged posts from the first week of conflict that encouraged the most frequently observed false or inconclusive allegations.
“These posts, promoting these myths, cumulatively received an engagement over 1,349,979 times and were collectively viewed over 100 million times worldwide in merely one week,” NewsGuard claimed in their Thursday report, revealing that 186 of the 250 posts were sent from premium X accounts.
Following the publication of NewsGuard’s report, Musk responded, insisting his company “should be disbanded immediately.”
Meanwhile, The European Union, deeply concerned over the spread of misinformation and illicit content related to the Israel-Hamas war, has launched an investigation into X. In response, X CEO Linda Yaccarino asserted that resources have been re-allocated internally to address the rapidly unfolding situation.
New laws governing illicit content and spreading misinformation on major social media platforms have recently been enacted by the EU. The EU has sought additional information from X competitors, Meta and TikTok, regarding their methods of removing potentially violative content, even though no investigation into these companies has begun.
Previously, blue verified check marks were an assurance that the individual or organization using an account were verified. However, earlier this year, Musk modified this policy to virtually anyone willing to pay an $8 monthly subscription for X Premium, without the need for verification. X also gives prominence to posts from paying users, suggesting they are more likely to be viewed.
In May, a brief plunge in the stock market was seen after verified accounts on X spread fabricated images of an alleged “explosion” in close proximity to the Pentagon.