Platform X Tops Disinformation Levels in EU Study, Risks Regulatory Action

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In a study conducted by the European Commission, it was found that X, previously known as Twitter, harboured the highest amount of disinformation among six major social media platforms. Other platforms evaluated in the study include Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, and YouTube, with over 6,000 unique social media posts considered during the analysis.

The researcher’s attention specifically centred on the social media content originating from Spain, Poland, and Slovakia, given their estimated high susceptibility to disinformation. The metrics to assess the findings were especially stringent considering these nations’ political vulnerability due to impending elections and their vicinity to the Ukrainian conflict zone.

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In response to the alarming conclusions of the research, the EU’s Values and Transparency Commissioner Vera Jourova sent a stern message to X, underscoring the need for compliance with existing regulations and warning of continued surveillance of their operations.

Interestingly, Twitter showcased the highest “ratio of discoverability” of disinformation, implying a significant portion of its sensitive content was tainted with misleading information. YouTube, on the contrary, registered the smallest ratio.

TrustLab, a disinformation monitoring start-up, carried out this study under the EU’s code of practice on disinformation mandate. Previously, Twitter, along with various other social media networks, had voluntarily agreed to abide by this code in 2018. However, under the tenure of Mr. Musk, the company retracted its commitment to the code.

Despite its withdrawal from the voluntary code, X will remain governed by the EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA) that regulates the behaviour of large tech platforms. The EU has plans to transform the voluntary code further into a code of conduct within the act’s purview.

In recent times, the EU has criticized social media companies heavily for their lack of action against “large-scale” Russian disinformation campaigns, particularly those escalating post-Ukraine invasion. The inability to curb or at least, limit the influence of Kremlin-backed accounts was pointed out as a critical failing, with their reach and influence reportedly increasing further in 2023.

Moreover, Commissioner Jourova highlighted the use of artificial intelligence generated disinformation as it became more prevalent during political campaigning, promising that mitigation strategies are under development. In line with this, a meeting with representatives of OpenAI is scheduled to discuss the issue further.