Elon Musk’s Company, X, Implements Measures to Prevent Reporting of Fake News Regarding Elections by Users


Elon Musk’s Social Media Platform, X, Ceases Election-Related Misinformation Reporting Feature, Raising Concerns About the Spread of False Claims Ahead of Crucial Elections in the US and Australia.

Reporting false news related to elections on X, formerly known as Twitter and now rebranded as X, will now be more challenging. Elon Musk’s social media platform has sparked concerns by discontinuing a feature that allowed users to report election-related misinformation. This move has raised fresh worries about the spread of false claims, particularly in the lead-up to crucial elections in the United States and Australia.

In 2022, X introduced a feature that enabled users to flag posts they considered misleading in the realm of politics. However, in the past week, X removed the “politics” reporting category from its menu in all regions except the European Union, as reported by Reset.Tech Australia, a research organization. It’s worth noting that users can still report various other issues like content promoting violence or hate speech.

X has not provided an immediate comment on this development. The removal of this avenue for reporting suspected political misinformation comes at a time when social media platforms face growing pressure to combat falsehoods concerning electoral integrity, a problem that has been on the rise in recent years.

This change comes just ahead of a critical event in Australia, a referendum that marks the first of its kind in 25 years. This referendum will determine whether to amend the constitution to establish an Indigenous advisory body to parliament. Additionally, it’s only 14 months until the next U.S. presidential election.

Alice Dawkins, the executive director of Reset.Tech Australia, expressed concerns about X’s shift in policy, saying, “It would be helpful to understand why X has seemingly gone backward on their commitments to mitigating the kind of serious misinformation that has translated into real political instability in the U.S., especially on the eve of the ‘bumper year’ of elections globally.”

In a letter addressed to X’s managing director for Australia, Angus Keene, Reset.Tech Australia highlighted that this change might result in content violating X’s own policy against electoral misinformation remaining unreviewed and unaddressed. This situation is especially worrisome given X’s recent history. Since Elon Musk took Twitter private in late 2022, the platform, which underwent significant downsizing, has faced accusations of permitting the proliferation of hate speech, antisemitism, and misinformation.

Reset.Tech Australia had previously found that X failed to either remove or label a single post containing misinformation about the Australian referendum, even after it was reported using the now-disabled feature.

Elon Musk has defended X’s “Community Notes” feature, which allows users to comment on posts to flag false or misleading content. However, these notes are made public only when deemed helpful by a group of contributors with varying perspectives.

The Australian internet safety regulator had already written to X in June, seeking an explanation for the surge in hate speech on the platform. They noted that X had reinstated around 62,000 high-profile accounts associated with Nazi rhetoric.

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), responsible for overseeing the October 14 referendum, has voiced its concerns about the rampant spread of electoral misinformation, calling it the worst they have encountered. Despite the disabled feature, the AEC stated that it could still report posts containing political misinformation directly to X, and it remains available to assist users with questions and information requests.

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