Musk’s new Twitter policies helped spread Russian propaganda, EU says

Musk’s new Twitter policies helped spread Russian propaganda, EU says

The Washington Post reports:

Elon Musk’s X (formerly Twitter) has played a major role in allowing Russian propaganda about Ukraine to reach more people than before the war began, according to a study released this week by the European Commission, the governing body of the European Union.

The research found that, despite voluntary commitments to take action against Russian propaganda by the largest social media companies, including Meta, Russian disinformation against Ukraine, thrived. Allowing the disinformation and hate speech to spread without limits would have violated the Digital Services Act, the E.U.’s social media law, had it been in force last year, the year-long commission study concluded.

“Over the course of 2022, the audience and reach of Kremlin-aligned social media accounts increased substantially all over Europe,” the study found. “Preliminary analysis suggests that the reach and influence of Kremlin-backed accounts has grown further in the first half of 2023, driven in particular by the dismantling of Twitter’s safety standards.” The social media platform was recently renamed X.

The E.U. has taken a far more aggressive regulatory approach to government-backed disinformation than the United States has. The Digital Services Act, which went into effect for the biggest social media companies Aug. 25, requires them to assess the risk of false information, stop the worst from being boosted by algorithms and subject their performance to auditing. Separately, European sanctions on Russian state media have prompted YouTube and other platforms to ban the likes of RT, the Russian news outlet formerly known as Russia Today that was once one of the most-followed channels.

The study is the starkest indication yet that the legal and voluntary measures are not getting the job done, following June warnings from E.U. Commissioner Thierry Breton that X had work to do to avoid potentially massive fines under the DSA. The research was conducted by nonprofit analysis group Reset, which advocates for greater oversight of digital platforms. [Continue reading…]

Comments are closed.