EU decries increased disinformation posts on X


THE European Union (EU) Commission has declared X (formerly Twitter), the social media platform with the largest ratio of misinformation and disinformation posts.

The Commission’s Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Vera Jourova, stated this on Tuesday while presenting new reports on how the signatories to the EU’s new Code of Practice on Disinformation of 2022 (Google, Meta, Microsoft, TikTok) have turned into practice their commitments to reduce the spread of disinformation.

According to her, X performed woefully during a pilot test of a new methodology developed by the Code signatories.

While other platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Microsoft, and Meta’s family apps were said to have taken some measures to address disinformation, X is said to be harbouring more disinformation actors.  

“X, former Twitter, who is not under the Code anymore is the platform with the largest ratio of mis/disinformation posts. The pilot also showed that disinformation actors were found to have significantly more followers than their non-disinformation counterparts and tend to have joined the platform more recently than non-disinformation users,” Jourova said.  

According to the EU Commission, all the social network platforms were asked to monitor specifically disinformation about the Russian war in Ukraine and the report shows that they have been taking significant steps in this regard.

“Disinformation is still one of the greatest risks to the European democratic information space, including that related to Russia’s war in Ukraine and elections. As Europeans will prepare to head to polling stations in 2024, all actors must do their part in fighting online disinformation and foreign interference to protect our online debate. The Code proves to be a useful exercise, but we all have to do more. I call for the platforms’ full engagement in applying the commitments they took under the Code to help ensure resilience of democracy,” the statement added.

According to her, Google reports that, between January and April 2023, YouTube terminated more than 400 channels involved in coordinated influence operations linked to the Russian state-sponsored Internet Research Agency (IRA).

“Meta reports expanding its fact-checking partnerships to 26 partners covering 22 languages in the EU, which now includes also Czech and Slovak.

“TikTok’s fact-checking efforts cover Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian and 17 European languages, including through a new partnership with Reuters. In this context, 832 videos related to the war have been fact-checked, of which 211 have been removed.

“Microsoft highlights that Bing Search has either promoted information or downgraded questionable information in relation to almost 800 thousand search queries related to the crisis,” she added.

She expressed satisfaction that major platforms have started to address the risks of generative AI by starting to put in place safeguards to inform users about the synthetic origin of content posted online.

Jourova noted that these efforts need to continue and intensify considering the high potential of such realistic AI products for creating and disseminating disinformation. She said the risks are particularly high in the context of elections. 

Meanwhile, reacting to the report immediately after its release, X’s Global Affairs  Team denied the allegations insisting that X is committed to complying with the Digital Services Act.

“We disagree with the overall framing of this data and believe that the data does not fit the narrative being covered in the media. This important debate should take into account the full range of actions taken by platforms & recognize the importance of protecting free expression,” X’s statement read.

It added: “More than 700 unique Community Notes have appeared on posts related to the Ukraine conflict. Through Community Notes’ new “Notes on Media” feature, which automatically matches notes on an image or video to other posts that contain matching media, these notes appeared on over 1200 additional posts. These notes are in numerous languages and are written specifically for local audiences.”

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Nurudeen Akewushola is a fact-checker with FactCheckHub. He has authored several fact checks which have contributed to the fight against information disorder. You can reach him via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 via Twitter.


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