| 2 December 2023, Saturday |

Elon Musk promotes unvetted accounts amid spread of false war information

In the midst of the spreading misinformation on the rapidly intensifying conflict between Israel and Gaza Strip militants on the social media platform X, its proprietor Elon Musk made a personal request to users, urging them to follow well-known accounts that have been propagating falsehoods.
“For following the war in real-time, @WarMonitors & @sentdefender are good,” posted Musk on Sunday morning (Oct 8) for his 150 million follower accounts on the platform, which was formerly known as Twitter.

In three hours, the post received 11 million views and received thanks from such notorious accounts, before it was deleted by Musk.

The two accounts, mentioned by Musk, were the first ones to spread a false claim regarding an explosion near the White House in May. Because of the false story, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stock index dropped briefly 85 points before it was debunked.
Researcher at the Atlantic Council Digital Forensics Research Lab Emerson T. Brooking posted that @sentdefender is an “absolutely poisonous account. regularly posting wrong and unverifiable things … inserting random editorialisation and trying to juice its paid subscriber count.”

The War Monitor account has spoken over Israel and religion, sharing a year ago that “the overwhelming majority of people in the media and banks are zionists” and telling a correspondent in June to “go worship a jew lil bro.”

Information researchers stated that the fresh conflict will prove as an early test of how the new version of Twitter, X, spreads accurate data amid a major crisis, further stating that the platform’s immediate impression was poor.

“Anecdotal evidence that X is failing this stress test is plentiful,” stated Mike Caulfield, a research scientist at the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, while speaking to The Washington Post.
“Go on the platform, do a search on Israel or Gaza — you don’t have to scroll very far to find dubious or debunked information,” he added.

Musk had posted his replies on the two accounts which he had promoted. Both accounts had more than 600,000 followers, which boosted their visibility. He further continued to fault “mainstream media” and asked users to continue trusting X instead.

More accounts on X share videos and photos of unrelated attacks from past years, while making false claims that Iran or other countries have also got engaged in the conflict.

An account, which imitated the Jerusalem Post, falsely stated that the Israeli prime minister was admitted to the hospital. The post received more than 700,000 views.

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