Linda Yaccarino, X’s CEO, said the company has redistributed its resources and has refocused internal teams, which are now working round the clock to address the platform’s needs related to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. Yaccarino talked about the measures the website has taken so far to contain fake news about the Hamas attacks on Israel, along with hateful posts in support of terrorism and violence, in her response to EU officials.
On October 10, EU Commissioner Thierry Breton sent Elon Musk an “urgent letter,” calling his attention and reminding him of X’s content moderation obligations under the region’s Digital Services Act. Breton said the EU had indications that the platform formerly known as Twitter is being used to disseminate illegal content and disinformation. Some of the images being circulated on the website, Breton said, were manipulated images from unrelated armed conflicts. Others, including supposed footage of military action, were taken from video games.
Indeed, Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) researchers told Wired that they’d been inundated with false information on the website, making it difficult to rely on X for information gathering. In the past, posts from news outlets on the ground and reputable sources quickly showed up on people’s timelines. But now, the website’s algorithm is boosting posts by users paying $8 a month for their blue checkmarks, even if they’re misleading content and lies. It didn’t help that Musk himself endorsed two accounts that had previously been proven to post false information to those who want to follow details about the war. One of those accounts also openly post antisemitic comments.
In her response, Yaccarino claimed that X has removed or labeled “tens of thousands of pieces of content” since the attack on Israel began. She also said that X has deleted hundreds of Hamas-affiliated accounts from the platform so far, and that it continues to work with counter-terrorism organizations to prevent further distribution of terrorist content on the website.
According to Yaccarino, the platform now has over 700 Community Notes, the website’s crowd-sourced fact-checking tool, related to the attack. And since even media posts can now get notes, around 5,000 posts containing images and videos have been marked with the crowd-sourced messages. The CEO said that notes appear for media and image posts within minutes of them being created and for text posts within a median time of five hours, but X is working to make them show up on posts more quickly.
In his letter, Breton said that the EU received reports from qualified sources that there were “potentially illegal content” circulating on X despite flags from relevant authorities. Yaccarino addressed that directly in her response, writing that the website has not received any notice from Europol and urging the European Commission to provide more details so that it can investigate further.
Everyday we’re reminded of our global responsibility to protect the public conversation by ensuring everyone has access to real-time information and safeguarding the platform for all our users. In response to the recent terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas, we’ve redistributed… https://t.co/VR2rsK0J9K
— Linda Yaccarino (@lindayaX) October 12, 2023