Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

The War in Israel, Part IV: He Who Controls (Mis)information...

Yesterday, we had an item talking about how the future of the world is in the hands of 8-10 people. Today, an item about how the lion's share of misinformation related to the war in Israel is in the hands of just 7 people. Well, on the platform formerly known as Twitter, at least.

That is the conclusion of a new study from the University of Washington's Center for an Informed Public. In a real-life illustration of the old line that "a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes," the owners (or owner?) of seven relatively nondescript Twitter/X accounts utilized their knowledge of the site's algorithms, plus the ability to pay $8/month to be "verified" and prioritized, to score 1.6 billion views of their content in just the first 3 days of the Israel-Hamas conflict. And virtually all the content is somewhere between "misleading" and "outright false."

Examples of some of the tweets that have gotten broad attention:

The agenda behind the ongoing misinformation campaign appears to be... "create chaos." In other words, the misinformation does not particularly serve the needs of one side or the other in the Israeli war. Russia certainly likes chaos, as does China, so it's at least possible that they're behind it, but it's also entirely possible that we're just dealing with toxic-masculinity-type individuals who think it's funny to "put one over" on millions of people.

Back in the early days of the platform, it was actually quite valuable as a source of on-the-scene, near-realtime information. Since Elon Musk came along, not so much. He and his ventriloquist dummy Linda Yaccarino claim that they are working hard to fight misinformation, but Musk eliminated those staffers months ago (while still finding resources to combat nudity on the platform, incidentally), and also got rid of the option to report misinformation to the site's management. Oh, and he's also personally promoted several of the seven accounts responsible for the misinformation.

There is every reason to believe that Musk's plan, all along, was to turn his toy into a megaphone for various forms of right-wing bigotry and misinformation, and by all indications he is succeeding. The misinformation and bigotry are flourishing, while older, more established users are fleeing in droves. By this time next year, the transition to the moderately more successful version of Parler should be all but complete. (Z)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates