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Social media disinformation spreads amid war in Israel

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Social media disinformation spreads amid war in Israel

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As the war in Israel and Gaza plays out in real time on social media, experts say bad information and propaganda are spreading on X, formerly known as Twitter

Alethea, a research group, said that they had detected a network of at least 67 accounts on the site posting false content about the war. Those posts, which include mistranslated videos, have received millions of views. 

“It matters whether or not people believe it,” said Lisa Kaplan, the Alethea founder, told CBS News. “The more times that people are able to view content of a similar nature, the more opportunities an actor has to convince somebody of something that may or may not be true.” 

The war comes after Elon Musk, the owner of X, laid off much of the team responsible for monitoring posts on the site. On Tuesday, the European Union sent the billionaire a letter asking him to immediately remove “illegal content and disinformation.” If not, “penalties can be imposed,” the E.U. warned. 

X said early last week that they have already removed “Hamas-affiliated accounts” and “several hundred accounts.” Other major social media platforms, including Facebook, TikTok, and Snap told CBS News that they have increased their resources to fight disinformation. 

Mike Caulfield, a research scientist at the Center for an Informed Public, a multidisciplinary research center at Seattle’s University of Washington, said that ongoing disinformation can cause chaos. 

“When we flood people with this sea of unvetted information, much of it deceptive, we’re throwing away the goodwill of our citizens,” Caulfield said. “We’re opening the door to a variety of people that want to manipulate their goodwill.” 

Kaplan said as the war continues, she and Alethea expect to see the online world “get more complicated.” 

“More actors will be weaponizing information,” she said. 

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