Conspiracies, extremists, “anti-vax” … the great return of disinformation on Elon Musk’s Twitter – Liberation
He announced these revenues at the end of November. Under the leadership of Elon Musk, Twitter has recently reinstated tens of thousands of accounts, some belonging to conspiracy theorists or anti-vaccination activists, at the risk of reviving the social network’s disinformation phenomenon. “Rebuilding these accounts will make the platform a magnet for actors who want to spread false information.” Jonathan Nagler, co-director of New York University’s Center for Social Networks and Politics, warned Monday. “And there will be less moderation of hate speech, which will make the network less welcoming to many users.”he adds.
More than 27,000 restored accounts were suspended for disinformation, harassment and hate speech, according to developer Travis Browne, who was quoted by several organizations. However, he claimed that his list is not complete and the number of such accounts may be more.
Dangers of vaccines
Among the personalities returning to the social network are representatives of the American “anti-vax” movement, such as cardiologist Peter McCullough and doctor Robert Malone. The latter was suspended a year ago because it warned against the possible dangers of vaccines against the coronavirus without confirmed data. Since removing the suspension on his account, which has more than 869,000 subscribers, Malone has posted several messages misrepresenting the Covid-19 vaccine. Especially after Twitter decided at the end of November to remove its rules aimed at combating fake publications in the fight against the pandemic.
Another former outcast has come clean again: former President Donald Trump is still sticking to his promise not to come back and only use the Truth social network he created last year. Among those taking up the torch is influential businessman Mike Lindell. The CEO of My Pillow, who was suspended twice in 2021, and the unconditional support of the former American head of state, as soon as his account was restored “Melt down electronic voting machines to turn them into prison bars”. A direct reference to the conspiracy theory that the vote count in the 2020 presidential election was manipulated with the help of voting machines that were never shown.
Also retweeted on Twitter: far-right activist Pamela Geller, represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an anti-extremism legal organization “One of America’s Brightest Anti-Muslim Activists”.
Twitter’s moderation has been called for several times in recent days, especially after American football player Damar Hamlin suffered a heart attack. The 24-year-old Buffalo Bills linebacker’s serious incident after being concussed on the field has led many Twitter users to link it to the coronavirus vaccine. “Before the covid vaccines, we didn’t see athletes falling head over heels like they do today”House Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a follower of QAnon conspiracy theories, tweeted.
NewsGuard analyst Jack Brewster noted the shortcomings: “In the era of Musk, the “super-spreaders” of disinformation are encouraged and readers have less knowledge about the credibility of sources”.
In mid-December, Twitter defended its recovery policy by saying that a “Permanent suspension was a disproportionate measure to breach the rules” of the social network. Elon Musk later clarified the company “committed to blocking dangerous content” on their website as well “Malicious Actors”, and “recovered accounts must always follow our rules.”
Although the tycoon recently claimed that he plans to hand over the leadership of Twitter, he “will take more time to fix” platform, warns Nora Benavidez of the Free Press media observatory. It will be necessary to buy, he warns “A series of actions to reverse Mask’s changes, reinvest in moderation, and restructure governance of the platform”.