Elon Musk has made drastic cuts to the ‘election integrity team’ at X (formerly Twitter), a department that was responsible for combating the spread of misinformation online, and also scrapped a feature that lets users self-report false political statements.
The announcement was made just weeks after the platform said it had plans to expand its safety teams, ahead of next year’s US presidential election. Musk took to X to announce that the team had been disbanded via a typically blunt statement.
Following the team cuts, a feature that allows users to report misinformation has also been removed from the X platform.
Oh you mean the “Election Integrity” Team that was undermining election integrity? Yeah, they’re gone.September 27, 2023
Musk acquired the platform last year for $44 billion, and his latest move raises fresh concerns about X’s ability to manage information and content surrounding important political events.
It follows a European Commission study published by TrustLab, which revealed that X has the highest ratio of misinformation spread across its content. The study analyzed content across six social media platforms – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, YouTube, and X – that appeared in Poland, Slovakia, and Spain.
The cuts to X’s election integrity team saw more than half of the global team laid off. It’s uncertain how many people remain on the team. This includes the department based in Ireland where X’s Co-lead of ‘threat disruption’, Aaron Rodericks, was based.
Recently, X’s CEO Linda Yaccarino had told The Financial Times that the platform was “expanding the safety and election teams all around the world to focus on combating things like manipulation, surfacing of inauthentic accounts and closely monitoring the platform for any emerging threats”.
The feature that allowed users to report fake news on the platform has been absent since the release of the study. It was noticed by Reset Australia, an organization that campaigns for democracy in digital media, which addressed concerns in an open letter to X.
You can still report X posts that you consider to be spam and hateful; however, there’s currently no option to report electoral misinformation. In the build-up to the US Presidential election, other companies, including Google, have implemented plans to safeguard electoral information online, most recently in its move to eradicate AI deepfakes during the presidential race by enforcing AI transparency policies.
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