As Elections Approach, Musk's X Makes a 'Concerning' Move

Social media platform decides to nix feature that allows users to report political misinformation
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2023 8:39 AM CDT
As Elections Approach, X Has 'Seemingly Gone Backwards'
Workers install lighting on an "X" sign atop the headquarters of the company formerly known as Twitter in downtown San Francisco on July 28.   (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

Ahead of a big vote in Australia, not to mention the 2024 election in the US, the X social media site formerly known as Twitter is making a move that has some scratching their heads. Reuters reports the platform has disabled a feature that allows users to report election misinformation, less than three weeks before an Oct. 14 Australian referendum on whether the nation's constitution should be changed to allow for setting up an Indigenous advisory board in Parliament. Research group Reset.Tech Australia found that the drop-down menu for users who want to file a complaint about false claims now no longer includes a section for "politics," except for users in the European Union.

In a Wednesday letter to Angus Keene, X's managing director for Australia, Reset.Tech Australia calls the move "extremely concerning." "We believe this breaches your commitments under Australia's misinformation code," the group wrote. "Users should be able to report this content appropriately." Alice Dawkins, executive director of Reset.Tech Australia, tells Reuters, "It would be helpful to understand why X [has] seemingly gone backwards on their commitments to mitigating the kind of serious misinformation that has translated into real political instability in the US, especially on the eve of the 'bumper year' of elections globally."

The move comes at a time when the Australian Electoral Commission says that electoral misinformation is the worst it's ever been. The BBC reports on a recent European Commission study that found X has the largest proportion of misinformation compared with the other big social-media sites, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, and YouTube. Twitter CEO Elon Musk has said it's better for posts to remain on the site, and for users to flag misleading information using the "Community Notes" feature. To add to the current worries, sources tell the Information that X has also slashed its global election integrity team—just weeks after the company vowed to expand it. Per NBC News, "it's unclear how many people remain on the team." (Read more Twitter stories.)

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