The European Union’s digital policy chief has said misinformation about the war between Israel and Hamas abounds on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, in a letter to owner Elon Musk.
X says it is trying to take action on a flood of posts sharing graphic media, violent speech and hateful conduct about the war and is treating the crisis with its highest level of response.
But outside watchdog groups and European Commissioner Thierry Breton say misinformation and fake and manipulated imagery is circulating on X.
This includes “repurposed old images of unrelated armed conflicts or military footage that actually originated from video games,” said the letter to Mr Musk from Mr Breton on Tuesday.
“This appears to be manifestly false or misleading information.”
Mr Breton also warned Musk that authorities have been flagging “potentially illegal content” that could violate EU laws and “you must be timely, diligent and objective” in removing it when warranted.
X did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Mr Breton’s letter.
But a post late on Monday from X’s safety team said: “In the past couple of days, we’ve seen an increase in daily active users on @X in the conflict area, plus there have been more than 50 million posts globally focusing on the weekend’s terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas.
“As the events continue to unfold rapidly, a cross-company leadership group has assessed this moment as a crisis requiring the highest level of response.”
That includes continuing a policy frequently championed by Mr Musk of letting users help rate what might be misinformation, which causes those posts to include a note of context but not disappear from the platform.
The struggle to identify reliable sources for news about the war was exacerbated over the weekend by Musk, who on Sunday posted the names of two accounts he said were “good” for “following the war in real-time”.
Analyst Emerson Brooking of the Atlantic Council called one of those accounts “absolutely poisonous”.
Journalists and X users also pointed out that both accounts had previously shared a fake AI-generated image of an explosion at the Pentagon, and that one of them had posted numerous antisemitic comments in recent months. Mr Musk later deleted his post.
Mr Brooking posted on X that Musk had enabled fake war reporting by abandoning the blue check verification system for trusted accounts and allowing anyone to buy a blue check.