Elon Musk spreads election misinformation on X without fact checkers
In the spring of 2020, when President Donald J. After Trump wrote a message on Twitter warning that increased reliance on mail-in ballots would lead to a “rigged election”, the platform took a corrective step, reject his claims,
One content label reads, “Get the facts about mail-in voting.” “Experts say mail-in ballots are rarely linked to voter fraud,” the hyperlinked article declared.
This month, Elon Musk, who has since bought Twitter and renamed it Were open for voting.
This time, No fact checking was done. And the
Since taking control of the site, Mr Musk has dismantled the platform's system for flagging false election content, arguing that it is inaccurate. election interference,
Now, his attacks on the tried-and-tested voting method at the start of an election year are raising concerns among civil rights lawyers, election administrators and Democrats. They worry that their control of big social media platforms gives them a greater ability to rekindle doubts about the US election system that were prevalent in the lead-up to the riot at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
As Mr Trump's victory in New Hampshire moved the race closer to the general election, the Biden campaign for the first time directly criticized Mr Musk for his handling of election material on X: “Spreading false information and creating mistrust.” “It is extremely irresponsible to do.” Biden campaign manager, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, said in a statement to The New York Times this week about how our elections are run.
“This coming from the owner of a social media platform is even more dangerous,” he said.
What is angering the Biden campaign is pleasing pro-Trump Republicans and others who portray the old Twitter as part of a government-controlled censorship regime that helped Mr Biden in 2020. Under a system now in dispute in the Supreme Court, government officials alerted posts on platforms they considered dangerous, although it was up to the companies whether to take action.
“Oh, boo hoo,” Harmeet's. Dhillon, a lawyer whose firm represents Mr. Trump, echoed the Democrats' complaints. Ms Dhillon have sued The company suspended the account of a customer who declined to vote after receiving a notice from California election officials — the kind of government interaction Mr. Musk has rejected. He said the platform is now “a better place for conservatives” and said of Mr Musk, “He’s great.”
X did not respond to a request for comment. Earlier this week, its chief executive, Linda Yaccarinowrote in a blog post that the platform has expanded its alternative approach to fact-checking misinformation through crowdsourcing.Community NotesWritten by users.
There were no such notes on Mr Musk's voting messages. But he was on a post that made the absurd claim that Mr Biden won the New Hampshire primary through ballot filling alone.
With the rise of artificial intelligence, increasingly realistic deep fakes and increasing acceptance of political violence, the free flow of false polling information is hardly the only perceived threat to the framing of elections on social platforms.
Mr Biden's campaign points to the unique role Mr Musk is already playing in the 2024 election.
No major media owner of the modern era has used his national platform to involve himself in an American election in such a personal and aggressive manner.
While Rupert Murdoch's conservative media empire, which includes Fox News, has exerted unmatched influence on United States politics for decades, he has largely kept behind the scenes, generally leaving it to determine the specifics of coverage. Left to its editors, producers and hosts.
And while Facebook is bigger than X, its owner, Mark Zuckerberg, is accountable to shareholders and accountable to advertisers. He has tried to avoid getting personally involved in political battles.
Mr Musk urged his followers to vote Republican within days of taking ownership of the site. he has gone open in his contempt For Mr. Biden, who has the White House Sometimes Responded in different ways.
Mr Musk, on the other hand, has no shareholder concerns in Ax, which he plans to take private in late 2022. He has rejected complaints from advertisers or calls to block content that could undermine trust in democracy.
Clearly demonstrating the raw media power of the 21st century, Some were related to the lie that the 2020 election was stolen. The platform's algorithm – which decides how posts are promoted on the site – now also gives additional promotions to those who pay to be “verified”, including previously banned accounts.
One of them is @kanekoathegreat, a once-banned QAnon influencer who this month circulated a 32-page dossier promoted by Mr Trump, giving a statement. false allegations About 2020 elections.
It was viewed approximately 22 million times.
In 2020, Twitter's “Election Integrity Center” which had an open line Along with outside groups and political campaigns, posts containing misleading information about voting were either removed or had context added.
For example, posts containing incorrect information about when and where to vote will be removed. Users will receive alerts and notices pointing them to fact-checking articles that purport to contain misinformation about mail voting, like Mr. Trump.
As Mr. Trump and his allies step up their attacks on mail voting — a preferred method for Democrats during the coronavirus pandemic — Twitter Expansion Its policy of removing or labeling claims that “undermine confidence” in elections.
Those measures proved equally effective. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other major platforms that had similar measures were also steeped in election lies, and had to face Criticism He did not take adequate action in the months following the January 6 attack.
Agreeing with critics who say these measures resulted in unfair and one-sided censorship, Mr Musk said Last time he fired the integrity team because it was actually “undermining election integrity.” He added, “They're gone.” (His Chief Executive, Ms. Yaccarino, He immediately disputed that characterization, saying that the work would continue and expand.)
Maya Wiley, chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, which communicated regularly with the platforms in 2020, said Mr Musk’s decision had wide-ranging implications. “It's also been given a free pass to people like Facebook and youtube,” He said.
X is more generous Policy Still addressed are posts that incite violence, contain verifiable false information about voting locations and dates, or that mislead about eligibility laws “including identification or citizenship requirements.”
Mr Musk's recent posts seem to go against that rule.
On January 10, he responded to a post about the recent influx of undocumented immigrants by falsely writing that “Illegals are not barred from voting in federal elections. It was a surprise for me.” A few days earlier, Mr. Musk had said that Mr. Biden and the Democrats were lax on immigration because “they are importing voters,” echoing the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory that Mr. Trump was sharing around the same time. Were. ,
Mr Musk has also expressed widespread skepticism about the US election system. On January 8, he wrote that voters in the United States “don't need a government-issued ID to vote and you can mail your ballot. This is crazy.” The post was viewed 59 million times.
More than half of the states require voters to present some form of identification when voting, and most states do not require a signature, affidavit, or date of birth; federal law Require identity verification from voters when registering.
In November, he picked up a story about substantial evidence of widespread absentee-ballot fraud in Bridgeport, Conn., writing, “The only question is how common it is.”
While Bridgeport's troubles are real – so much so that a judge ordered a re-run of the Democratic primary – it's also rare. Mail ballots have been used for years, and with various security measures in place, have proven to be highly reliable. with bipartisan approvalAt least before Mr. Trump stepped up his criticism of the method.
Mr Trump failed to provide evidence of any significant fraud in any of his lawsuits over his defeat in 2020.
Some election officials said that hasn't stopped Mr. Musk from continuing to stoke skepticism about the voting system among millions of Americans, contributing to an already fraught environment for election workers as Mr. Trump vie for 2024 Has repeated his stolen election lies again. Said.
“It creates bubbles and keeps the temperature high,” said Stephen Richer, the county recorder in Maricopa County, Arizona, a hotbed of election conspiracy theories. “Whether it’s President Trump or Mr. Musk talking about this and keeping it at the forefront of his mind,” said Mr. Richter, a Republican and longtime admirer of Mr. Musk’s business achievements. Can make our life more challenging. ,
The Biden campaign shares that concern. “We will continue to expose this negligence while fulfilling President Biden’s commitment to safeguard our elections,” Ms Chávez Rodríguez said.
However, this is the only option the campaign has – the complaint line between the campaign and the platform has been exhausted.