Elon Musk’s X counts on Community Notes to counter misinformation. A recent investigation by Mashable revealed that a majority of users don’t encounter these notes when viewing misinformation.
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When Elon Musk took over X (former Twitter), one of his initial actions involved redefining the company’s content moderation approach. To address misinformation, Musk has turned to X’s users, as part of the Community Notes initiative, allowing approved users to provide context to posts with inaccuracies or falsehoods.

However, this community-based solution seems to be falling short. The surge in misinformation following the conflict between Hamas and Israel has only exacerbated the platform’s problems.

X’s Reliance on Community Notes

X has faced significant issues with misinformation in recent months. The EU even threatened punitive action against the company, prompting an investigation that could result in substantial fines.

To appease EU officials, X CEO Linda Yaccarino announced several updates to the Community Notes program. In October, she published non-retweetable posts, nine of which concerned the Community Notes program. This marked the first communication from X since Musk acquired the company.

While X emphasizes its dependence on Community Notes to combat misinformation, the reality tells a different story.

According to reports from NBC News and Bloomberg, X consistently fails to showcase Community Note fact-checks on viral posts spreading falsehoods in a timely manner. Although X aimed to expedite the process, Bloomberg found that it takes more than seven hours on average for a Community Note to appear, and some posts took days to receive a fact-check.

In its own investigation, Mashable monitored 50 viral posts with approved Community Notes. Shockingly, the platform failed to present these notes to the majority of its users, even after their approval and attachment to the posts.

Misinformation vs. Fact-Checks: The View Discrepancy

Mashable’s findings illustrate a stark contrast between the views on misinformation posts and their corresponding Community Notes. In various instances, posts with false information garnered significantly more views than the attached fact-checks.

For example, a false claim about a pro-Palestine chant at UPenn received 3.9 million views, while the attached Community Notes only managed 185,000 views, reaching just 4.7% of the original post’s viewership.

Similarly, another post falsely depicting a pro-Hamas sticker at the University of British Columbia amassed one million views, with the verified fact-check lagging far behind at 143,000 views.

These cases reflect a recurring pattern: Community Notes often fail to gain exposure comparable to that of the misinformation they aim to counter.

Challenges and Questions Surrounding Community Notes

X has boasted about the viewership of Community Notes, claiming high numbers of impressions. However, based on X’s own metrics, these figures seem to be on the decline, raising doubts about their effectiveness.

Moreover, the virality of misinformation posts demonstrates that the number of views on Community Notes is disproportionately low. For instance, a false claim about Israeli helicopters garnered 30 million views, overshadowing the Community Note’s mere 244,200 views.

Despite X’s efforts to highlight Community Notes, the numbers speak a different truth, with fact-checks consistently falling short in terms of visibility and impact.

Verified Users and the Misinformation Struggle

Surprisingly, X Premium subscribers, who receive a boost from X and are influential on the platform, have been significant contributors to misinformation. These users, including those mentioned in this report, hold a level of responsibility in disseminating false information.

Despite Musk’s announcement that posts with Community Notes would no longer be eligible for ad revenue, brands’ advertisements continue to appear on posts containing misinformation. This indicates ongoing challenges in X’s efforts to curb the spread of false information.

While this investigation predominantly focused on misinformation regarding Israel and Gaza, it found similar problems across various other topics and issues. Many instances displayed a substantial disparity between the views on a post and its attached Community Note.

In summary, X’s Community Notes oftentimes fail to gain traction among users, allowing misinformation to spread without adequate rebuttal. The platform’s struggle to effectively combat false information poses significant challenges in maintaining user trust and content reliability.

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Elon Musk


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