European Union regulators scolded Elon Musk after a new report revealed that Twitter had a higher proportion of misinformation and false information compared to other social media platforms.
“X, formerly Twitter, is the platform with the highest proportion of misinformation/disinformation, followed by Facebook,” said European Commissioner for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, in statements reported by The Guardian.
The comments coincided with the publication of a new series of reports under the EU’s Code of Practice on Disinformation.
A study proves that getting accurate information on X is very difficult
Among them is an analysis by TrustLab, which states that the probability of finding messages containing misinformation and disinformation is higher on X.
TrustLab’s report, covering disinformation in EU member states Poland, Slovakia, and Spain, also claims that the proportion of actors focused on disinformation was higher on X.
Regarding engagement, TrustLab’s report notes that misinformation and disinformation content had higher engagement on X, on average, than non-disinformation content, making it the highest relative engagement across all platforms analyzed.
However, in absolute terms, interaction with misinformation and disinformation content on X was lower than on TikTok, YouTube, and Facebook.
A company that withdrew from the Code of Practice
X, formerly known as Twitter, signed the voluntary code last year alongside companies like Meta, Microsoft, and Google but withdrew from the agreement in May 2023.
As a result, although X has been included in TrustLab’s third-party report, it did not disclose its data alongside other major tech companies.
X had previously been criticized by the EU before formally exiting the code of conduct, with the EU stating that its initial report earlier this year was “sparse on data, with no information about commitments to empower the fact-checking community.”
Although the code of conduct is currently voluntary, it is seen as a precursor to the EU’s new Digital Services Act, which came into effect in August and which Twitter and other designated Large Online Platforms will have to fully comply with early next year.
“Mr. Musk knows he is not off the hook for leaving the code of conduct,” said Jourová, as reported by The Guardian. “There are obligations under the law. So my message to Twitter is that they have to comply. We will be watching what you do.”
How much effort do giants put into combating fake news?
Aside from X, self-reported data sheds light on the magnitude of efforts by tech giants to combat misinformation on their platforms.
For example, Google claims to have rejected over 140,000 political ads in the EU “for not passing the identity verification process,” while Microsoft states to have restricted or blocked the creation of 6.7 million fake LinkedIn accounts in the EU in the first half of this year.
TikTok says it has removed over 140,000 videos for violating its misinformation policy, while Meta applied fact-checking labels to over 40 million pieces of content on Facebook and Instagram.
The EU press release specifically highlights efforts to halt the spread of misinformation about the Russia-Ukraine war.
Google reports having taken down 411 YouTube channels linked to the state-backed Russian Internet Research Agency, while TikTok removed 211 videos after fact-checking.