‘Stamp of Approval’: Twitter’s Musk Amplifies Misinformation

by | Apr 20, 2023

Elon Musk promised to make Twitter the “Most Accurate Source Of Information About The World,” but according to an AFP analysis of his online activity, he has repeatedly used his own account to amplify false claims from some of the internet’s most notorious disinformers.

Musk’s posts highlight misinformation about everything from the Ukraine war to the attack on US Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s husband. The billionaire boosted a tweet last week that incorrectly suggested doctors misdiagnosed flu cases as Covid-19 deaths.

“One of Covid-19’s greatest mysteries: Where did the flu go in 2020 and 2021?” Musk responded, “Good question,” to an account called “KanekoaTheGreat.”

Since purchasing Twitter for $44 billion nearly six months ago, the billionaire has responded to the profile at least 40 times. In that time, he has only responded to a few more accounts.

AFP examined thousands of replies Musk posted between late October and March using data from PolitiTweet, a website that tracked public figures’ tweets until Twitter blocked its access.

He shared a fabricated CNN segment, referred to a made-up quote as “wise words,” and falsely claimed that on January 6, 2021, police escorted a rioter through the US Capitol. He shared a post that blamed mass shootings on LGBTQ people and endorsed a bogus Ukrainian casualty count.

Musk has also brushed off Covid-19 and promoted false claims about vaccines causing blood clots, miscarriages, and heart problems.

“We are running out of ‘conspiracies’ that turned out to be true!” tweeted the Twitter owner in March, in response to a tweet listing Covid-19 and vaccine safety among the “biggest media lies.”

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After a few days, he tweeted that the “best way to combat misinformation is to respond with accurate information.”

Experts say Musk’s behaviour is troubling, and not just because of his online clout.

“Musk has nearly 135 million Twitter followers and forced his engineers to increase the reach of his tweets, so when he spreads misinformation, we should be concerned,” Brendan Nyhan, a Dartmouth College professor who studies political misperceptions, told AFP.

“What concerns me the most, however, is what these tweets reveal about the judgment of the person who decides the policies of a major social media platform.”

Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com

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Sarah M

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