Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Social media faces Israel-Hamas misinformation

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Alexei Oreskovic

Technology Editor

The attacks on Israel and the resulting war in the region have spilled into social media. That’s not surprising—online platforms from X to Telegram have emerged as digital frontlines in modern warfare, as we’ve seen in Ukraine, Syria, and Afghanistan.


But perhaps because of the horrendous nature of the attack, much of it captured in easy-to-share smartphone videos, or due to the intense feelings about Israel and Palestine, the role of social media in this conflict has become a developing story in its own right.


European Commissioner Thierry Breton quickly and publicly called out the leadership of Meta, X, and TikTok about misinformation on their platforms. Breton has the EU’s recent Digital Services Act on his side, which subjects companies to hefty fines (up to 6% of annual revenue) if they are found to have allowed “illegal” content.


X owner Elon Musk was quick to lock horns with Breton, telling the commissioner to back his words up with evidence, while his CEO Linda Yaccarino played good cop, and claimed that X had removed or labeled “tens of thousands” of pieces of content since the attack. Meanwhile TikTok, a much younger platform, has found itself embroiled in a geopolitical conflict that’s not about the U.S. and China. As Fortune exclusively reported, TikTok’s pay-for-visibility feature allowed biased videos about Israel and Palestine to gain prominent placement on the platform, and to appear in searches about Israel and Palestine.

You can read Fortune‘s coverage below:

This TikTok feature is allowing users to pay to spread biased information around Israel and Palestine—for just $7

October 12, 2023


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