The First Casualty Of War Is The Truth

As the tragic and shocking events of the last few days have unfolded across the news media, the role social media is playing in its reporting has come under the spotlight.

The moderation of some of the biggest platforms has come in to serious question as EU regulator Thierry Breton threatened both Twitter/X and TikTok with fines of up to 6% of their annual turnover for failure to act. Referring to “violent and terrorist content” and disinformation and “manisfestly false or misleading information“. 

Citing the recently introduced Digital Services Act, Breton engaged directly on the platform with Elon Musk and CEO Linda Yaccarino. As the crisis broke Musk had already promoted (and deleted) supposedly trustworthy Twitter accounts @WarMonitors and @sentdefender on his own account which turned out to be anything but that. 

Having bought Twitter for $44BN and dismantled much of its apparatus for authentication, namely the Blue tick verification system, this has caused chaos on the platform. Although this has been apparent for a while the war in Ukraine and now Israel / Gaza bring it in to even sharper focus.

Bad actors purchasing the new blue tick on ‘X’ can have any disinformation they post pushed up the feed algorithmically. On its purchase Twitter held this haughty valuation in no small part due to the checks and balances afforded to it by the aforementioned system as well as whole departments of disinformation teams and moderators who worked to keep out the lies and propaganda. Many of these staff were removed by Musk in his move to cut costs and create the ‘Everything App’ of his dreams.

We know the potential social media has for positive impact on the world. We hope and pray that better times will come for all concerned.