According to researchers from Reset.Tech Australia, Elon Musk's company, X, has deactivated a function that allowed users to report election-related misinformation. Reset.Tech notes that this feature has been removed in recent weeks, except for users in the European Union.
X Cancels Tool for Election-Related False Information
Research from a prominent Australian think tank suggests that Elon Musk's X, previously known as Twitter, has apparently eliminated a feature that allowed users to report election-related misinformation.
This development has raised concerns, particularly in light of an upcoming important referendum in Australia aimed at granting Indigenous people more rights, as well as the 2024 U.S. presidential elections. Australian authorities express alarm at the increasing spread of electoral misinformation.
The tool, initially launched in 2021 in the U.S, Australia, and South Korea, was expanded to three additional countries last year: Brazil, the Philippines, and Spain. It permitted users to flag content as "misleading" within the category of politics.
Reset.Tech Australia expressed serious concern in a letter, describing the removal of this feature as "extremely concerning," especially with Australia's upcoming referendum next month. The group pointed out that there currently seems to be no means to report electoral misinformation on the platform. However, users still retain the option to report posts they deem as hateful, abusive, or spam. The removal of this feature could potentially impact voters' ability to report misinformation in the lead-up to the 2024 U.S. presidential elections as well.
Reset.Tech Australia reports that the feature, previously limited to Spain in Europe, has now been expanded across the entire European Union (EU) with a slightly modified format. EU users can now report a post for "Negative effects on civic disorders or elections." It is worth noting that this feature is not accessible to users in the United Kingdom, and it has never been available there.
X as the Most Active Platform for Disinformation
A recent study by the European Commission indicates that X has the highest proportion of disinformation among the six major social networks. The study analyzed over 6,000 unique social media posts on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, X, and YouTube. According to the study, X had the largest "ratio of discoverability" of disinformation, meaning users are more likely to come across false information on this platform. In contrast, YouTube had the lowest discoverability.
Following the study, the EU's Values and Transparency Commissioner, Vera Jourova, warned X to comply with the hard law, referring to the Digital Services Act (DSA) in the EU, designed to protect users and prevent election interference. Since Elon Musk took over X, previously known as Twitter, in late 2022, the company has faced accusations of allowing an increase in hate speech and misinformation. Musk, however, denied these claims in a BBC interview. He argued that the platform's "Community Notes" feature, enabling users to comment on posts to highlight false or misleading content, serves as a better method for fact-checking.
X Platform Ranks Lowest in Combating Climate Misinformation
The "Climate of Misinformation" report by CAAD (Climate Action Against Disinformation) investigated the content moderation policies and efforts of Meta, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and X with the aim of combating climate denialism and false information.
When assessing their policies, X received only one point out of a possible 21 on the scorecard. This placed X at the bottom among the five major tech platforms analyzed in the report.
Australia Holds Historic Indigenous Voice Referendum in October
Australia is gearing up for a momentous referendum on October 14, focusing on the establishment of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. If this referendum gets the green light, it will formally acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities within the country's constitution and institute a permanent consultative body for them concerning legislative matters. The prerequisites for success include securing a majority "yes" vote from the Australian populace and achieving majority support in a minimum of four out of the country's six states.
The specific structure, responsibilities, and authorities of this proposed body will be determined by the parliament. The concept of an Indigenous Voice originated from the 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart, a historic document drafted by over 250 Indigenous leaders. This proposal is viewed as a pivotal stride towards reconciliation, especially in a nation that has yet to establish a treaty with its Indigenous communities. Nonetheless, it has sparked debate and contrasting viewpoints, with opponents expressing concerns about the lack of detailed plans and the potential for racial divisions. Conversely, proponents advocate for its significance in addressing the persistent disparities faced by Indigenous Australians.
Australia's history of referendums has been relatively unproductive, with only eight out of 44 proposals gaining approval and none succeeding without bipartisan support.