Elon Musk’s X, formerly known as Twitter, has long been criticized for the misinformation problem that pervades the platform. Hate speech on the social media service has also been on the rise under Musk’s leadership.
However, the situation on X has been particularly egregious since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7 and Israel subsequently started bombing Gaza. Misinformation, specifically from verified users paying the company $8 per month in order to be prioritized by the algorithm, has been rampant.
And according to a new study just published on Tuesday by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), X doesn’t seem to be very responsive to potentially dangerous or harmful content when it’s reported.
New study finds misinformation on X is out of control
CCDH researchers collected 200 posts containing bigotry against Muslims or Jews. For example, some of these posts contain antisemitic or Islamophobic imagery, Holocaust denialism, Nazi glorification, or dehumanization of Palestinians. CCDH then reported these posts to X and gave the company a week to respond. The company removed only four posts; 196 of these posts, or 98 percent, remain on the platform.
“X has sought to reassure advertisers and the public that they have a handle on hate speech – but our research indicates that these are nothing but empty words,” said CCDH CEO and founder Imran Ahmed.
Musk has previously sparred with the CCDH, even going so far as suing the organization for its reports. However, the CCDH has not backed down and continues to release studies on the platform and its content moderation failures.
X has shared a number of changes to its Community Notes program, its crowdsourced “fact-checking” solution that allows members to add context to other users’ posts. But, clearly misinformation has still spread nearly unabated regardless of these moves from the company. Keep in mind that Community Notes has no bearing on the hate speech issue; the program is not meant to deal with that sort of content.
“This is the inevitable result when you slash safety and moderation staff, put the Bat Signal up to welcome back previously banned hate actors, and offer increased visibility to anyone willing to pay $8 a month,” said Ahmed in a statement. “Musk has created a safe space for racists, and has sought to make a virtue of the impunity that leads them to attack, harass and threaten marginalized communities.”