EU official calls out X as largest promotor of disinformation
“My message for Twitter/X is…We will be watching what you do,” official says.
Since Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter—now X—in April 2022, the site has become “the platform with the largest ratio of mis- or disinformation posts,” European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova said Tuesday at a press conference in Brussels.
Jourova’s comments come months after a former data scientist at Twitter told Defense One that Musk’s disbanding of the team that monitored the site for disinformation made a growth in foreign disinformation more likely.
A report the EU released Tuesday shows X has the largest ratio of “disinformation actors” to regular users at almost 9 percent. Meta’s Facebook was close behind, with 8 percent.
Russia in particular is still using disinformation as “a multimillion-euro weapon of mass manipulation aimed both internally at the Russians as well as at Europeans and the rest of the world,” Jourova said.
The report looked specifically at Poland, Slovakia, and Spain; Poland and Slovakia are preparing for elections this fall. “These countries were assessed to have a higher likelihood of being targets of disinformation during the pilot period (particularly due to upcoming elections or proximity to ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine).”
The report follows a similar EU report from September showing Russian propaganda was exploding on the site because of Musk’s actions.
Not long after Musk took control of the social media platform last year, he made controversial moves that hurt the company’s ability to spot disinformation actors on the site, such as disbanding the 100-plus volunteer trust and safety council and sacking some 80 human content reviewers, in addition to eliminating the small but important data team that was responsible for using artificial intelligence to spot influence efforts, Defense One reported in December.
X could face penalties or even a ban in Europe due to the high volume of disinformation, under a law enacted in August called the Digital Services Act. Said Jourova: “There are obligations under the hard law. So my message for Twitter/X is, you have to comply. We will be watching what you do.”