Elon Musk’s Twitter acquisition fears wave of disinformation ahead of US midterm elections

Elon Musk's Twitter acquisition fears wave of disinformation ahead of US midterm elections

The US midterm elections are scheduled to take place in November. (Representative)


With the US midterm elections less than two weeks away, Elon Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of Twitter could trigger a wave of misinformation, according to political and media experts. about the election as well as the voters who are voting to determine the control of Congress over the next two years.

Musk, CEO of electric car maker Tesla, says he is a “despot” of free speech and has vowed to loosen the reins of chatter in the social media app, which in recent years has tried to limit harmful content that is dangerously false or discriminatory even as its global influence has expanded.

Musk sought to address the fear on Thursday, telling Twitter advertisers that the platform “can’t be a free hell for everyone where anything can be said without There are consequences!”

But Musk has expressed skepticism about the site’s permanent ban on figures like former President Donald Trump, who lost their accounts – and nearly 90 million followers – shortly after January 6, 2021. , the attack on the US Capitol by a mob of his supporters. Trump used his account to falsely assert that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Musk also said he would relax the site’s moderation policies, and his plans to massively cut staff could also hamper the site’s ability to control content, something it has struggled with on multiple occasions. in the past.

“The bird is freed,” he wrote on Twitter after completing the acquisition on Thursday.

It’s not clear how a looser censorship of Twitter will affect political discourse in the run-up to the November 8 general election. Early voting has begun in some states and regions. The poll showed that most voters had already decided.

A more permissive Twitter could help amplify false stories around key election results in the days after November 8 if some candidates refuse to accept the results and call for fraud because of a fear may occur.

Republicans say many social media platforms are biased against them, and many conservative Twitter accounts – including Republican politicians – on Friday welcomed Musk’s takeover . Democrats are concerned that Trump supporters will promote far-right views or falsely claim election fraud on Twitter if allowed.

The website has been an important political tool for many years, providing politicians and activists around the world with the ability to reach millions of people with unfiltered rhetoric. Twitter has played a role in organizing mass campaigns, including the #MeToo movement targeting sexual misconduct and the Arab Spring protests in the Middle East.

However, critics have warned that the site has also helped spread both misinformation – information that is inaccurate or misleading – and misinformation – purported misinformation – that destroys information. undermine democratic principles and create opportunities for foreign actors to intervene.

“(Musk’s acquisition) could certainly create a much larger avenue for the public,” said Yosef Getachew, director of the media and democracy program at Common Cause, a nonpartisan public interest organization. disinformation agents to spread harmful information on the platform.

“Content moderation policies are only effective if there are people out there enforcing them, and there’s a system in place to make sure they’re enforced. If those rules are thrown out the window, that would be incredibly frustrating. dengoures.”

Polls suggest Democrats could be close to losing their majority in Congress on Nov.


Since being banned, Trump has launched his own social media app, Truth Social, and said he won’t return to Twitter even if Musk reinstates him. On Friday morning, he posted to his 4.4 million followers on Truth Social, boasting that the app has “greater numbers” than all other platforms, including Twitter, making it clear It is clear that he has no intention of converting.

“I’m so glad Twitter is now in sane hands and will no longer be run by Left-wing tyrants and people who truly hate our country,” he wrote, before adding , “I LOVE TRUTH!”

After the 2016 presidential election, when US security agencies concluded that Russia surreptitiously used social media to carry out influence campaigns to manipulate results, Twitter and social media sites Others have stepped up efforts to prevent the spread of misinformation, with mixed success.

Twitter has sought to weed out false tweets about the coronavirus pandemic, when misinformation about the scale of the disease and the effectiveness of various medical treatments – was widely reported by some key leaders. exacerbating treatment – is widespread, impedes the public health response.

After the 2020 election, Twitter permanently banned Trump and some of his allies, such as attorney Sidney Powell and pillow businessman Mike Lindell, from repeating his false claims that the election election was stolen. The site also removed thousands of accounts linked to right-wing extremist groups such as the Proud Boys and the far-right conspiracy theory known as QAnon.

But some experts have questioned whether those efforts are adequate given the volume and speed of misinformation on the network. A company whistleblower said earlier this year that Twitter has prioritized user growth over reducing spam and bots; The company denied his account.

Conservatives have accused the site of censoring their views for political reasons, an accusation Twitter has denied.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, Georgia Republican congresswoman and Trump delegate whose personal account was permanently banned in January for spreading disinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine, tweeted, “FREE STATED!” from her official congressional account on Thursday.

Rapper Kanye West, whose Twitter account was suspended for posting anti-Semitic comments, appeared to be active again on Friday.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)

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