X’s handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict has come under scrutiny after a “deluge” of fake posts and Elon Musk’s recommendation of war coverage from accounts that have made false claims or antisemitic comments.
The owner of X, formerly Twitter, recommended two accounts on Sunday. He wrote: “For following the war in real-time, @WarMonitors and @sentdefender are good. It is also worth following direct sources on the ground. Please add interesting options in the replies below.”
The @WarMonitors account told a user in June “go worship a jew lil bro” while both accounts helped to spread a false claim in May that an explosion had occurred at the Pentagon. Emerson T Brooking, a researcher at the Atlantic Council’s digital forensic research lab, said the @sentdefender account regularly posted “wrong and unverifiable things”.
Musk has since deleted his post and disputed a War Monitor post describing Gaza fighters as “martyrs”. He wrote: “While reporting both sides is fair, please use maximally accurate words or I must withdraw my recommendation to follow your account.”
Fake social media accounts are spreading false information about the Israel-Hamas conflict, with X and TikTok among the affected platforms, according to disinformation specialists.
One in five social media accounts participating in online conversations about the Hamas attacks and their aftermath are fake, according to Cyabra, an Israeli analysis firm.
Cyabra, which has monitored US election disinformation and tracked bot accounts on Twitter historically, found that approximately 30,000 fake accounts have been spreading pro-Hamas disinformation or gathering sensitive details about their targets.
The company said the fake accounts – many of them automated bot accounts not operated by human hand – were particularly active on X and TikTok but were also appearing on other platforms.
A journalist at BBC Verify, the corporation’s factchecking and disinformation unit, said there had been a “deluge” of false posts on X since the attacks, including from an account pretending to be a BBC reporter.
Shayan Sardarizadeh posted on X that untrue posts from verified accounts, which pay for a blue tick, had been boosted across the platform. He said X’s crowd-sourced factchecking function, community notes, could not cope with the number of false posts.
“I’ve been factchecking on Twitter for years, and there’s always plenty of misinformation during major events. But the deluge of false posts in the last two days, many boosted via Twitter Blue [now X Premium], is something else. Neither factcheckers nor Community Notes can keep up with this.”
Thread: Online misinformation about the conflict between Hamas and Israel – day three
This video doesn’t show a salvo of rockets fired by Hamas towards Israel.
It’s from the Syrian war, and was shared online in 2020. pic.twitter.com/62xm6tpGu7
— Shayan Sardarizadeh (@Shayan86) October 8, 2023
An account imitating the Jerusalem Post, since suspended, published a false claim on X that the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had been taken to hospital, while footage from the Syrian conflict has been falsely labelled as being from Gaza.
X and TikTok have been contacted for comment.