Elon Musk’s Twitter faces US midterm elections, his first high-stakes take a look at

as america Braces for midterm elections, the primary main voting cycle because of the violence on January 6, Elon Musk’s highly chaotic Twitter takeover provides additional uncertainty to an already tense time. While other major platforms take out their dusty playbooks on dealing with viral misinformation, coordinated attacks, and misleading claims about election results, Twitter’s new owner has halved the company, with some groups handling elections and packing misinformation. sent during

Twitter is a relatively small social community, yet it plays an outsized role in politics due to its superiority as a breaking news source and the fact that most elected leaders (and many other government officials) spend time there. Musk’s worth and half the company is gone, along with some people who should not have ended — oops — Twitter’s insurance policies and even some of its products are about to come under scrutiny.

The day before the US midterm election, Musk inexplicably plunged into the political fray, throwing his weight behind Republicans. “Shared power prevents the worst excesses of both parties, so I recommend voting for a Republican Congress, given that the Presidency is Democratic,” Musk wrote. Musk isn’t the first tech CEO to have a political opinion, though his last-minute advocacy demonstrates that he isn’t concerned about being “politically neutral,” regardless of how he frames it.

Like almost every piece he’s tweeted since he took to Twitter, Musk’s shallowly argued final-minute political support undermines confidence in his ability to steer the platform as a whole. The political message isn’t particularly surprising given the current feud with high-profile Democrats on Twitter, yet it’s worrying. These Those are the problems the new owner of Twitter is wasting his (and our) time. Since shopping for Corporate, Musk has each clashed with Democratic Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Hillary Clinton, and later provided interactions. a particularly dangerous glimpse How little Twitter’s new owner understands or cares about reliable data, especially when it doesn’t fit his worldview.

With weeks until election day, Musk demonstrated his seriousness on the subject by responding to Clinton with the idea of ​​a simply dismissed conspiracy from an identified misinformation supply on the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. A false narrative was provided regarding the violent attack. Musk has since deleted the tweet, demonstrating that at least one of the many sycophants in his inner circle would need to flag the reply as somewhat of a threat, more likely for advertisers. Twitter’s new owner began sowing discord in other matters without responsibility – or a much-wanted news literacy course. not good.

A lot can go wrong in terms of election misinformation, both on election day and on polling day. This is not only in relation to the big calls – for example, which party takes the House and the Senate – but also the 1000 required smaller calls coming in from state and local election directors. Two years after the January 6 riots, electoral deniers in states such as Arizona continue to spread false narratives about past election results while attempting to oversee local elections for themselves. Will Twitter have the staff or the political will to rapidly fact-check conspiracy theories this time around? we’re all for the wave baseless claims Voting irregularities, mail-in ballots and political fortunes that turn up over time in the form of additional votes are counted.

Musk hasn’t rewritten Twitter’s insurance policies yet, but he’s already sent the platform with a skeleton team in dire straits. The firm’s layoffs have been so random and so swift that it appears to be some core data about the company’s way of doing things and responding to threats with half its employees running out the door.

Despite Assurance from Joel Roth, Twitter’s head of security and integrity, who apparently has Musk’s ears in the meantime, corporate downed some employees who touched on electoral integrity. This includes Twitter’s curation staff, who offered context, monitored for misinformation and curated Twitter’s Trending and Moments module during live events – such as elections. The curation staff tops out completely different elements of the platform with fact-checked updates, which address data constraints and act as counterprogramming to misinformation, which increasingly On-the-go news spreads rapidly in the environment.

“With early voting in America, our efforts at electoral integrity — including damaging misinformation that can stifle votes and combating state-backed information operations — remain a top priority,” Roth said.

Twitter also reportedly reduced half of its public policy teamWith a former director of public coverage and elections, who worked to organize the platform for the American midterm. NBC Report That Twitter layoffs also significantly reduced the engineering staff targeted at “user health,” which takes an active part in content moderation.

The only positive news is that someone on Twitter satisfied Musk to put the brakes on his pay-for-play verification scheme, so the platform barely dodged the utter chaos (that those gifted with algorithmic preference) There would have been a flood of new verified accounts) on election day.

open season

Misinformation with domestic origins is a major concern this election cycle, although Putin allies in Russia are actively staking out their own efforts to undermine US elections. Russian entrepreneur Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed that “we have intervened, are interfering and will interfere” in American politics, although the ominous statement is actually cheaper than the hiring required to see that agenda, the greater the potential for related influence. Is. Meta’s head of security policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, made some good points on that entrance:

Despite what most Americans would like to imagine, the threat to US elections this year is coming from within, not from outside. And while social media platforms and American democracy will be tested again on Tuesday, the tussle to undermine the election has been going on for months. False claims of ballot “smuggling” And Threats motivated by conspiracy to violence To election officials and ballot staff.

Twitter isn’t the only social community grappling with election misinformation. Researchers from Global Witness and NYU’s Cyber ​​Security for Democracy staff found that TikTok approves 90 percent of test ads Including false poll-related claims as well as incorrect election dates. Facebook detected some ads and did not flag others, while YouTube detected all English-language ads and banned channels that published them (a similar test for political ads in Brazil confirmed that Non-English content moderation nevertheless leaves drawbacks) to anyone who will take advantage of them).

But most political misinformation is not propaganda, which has to be presented and reviewed. The overwhelming majority of political conspiracies and misleading claims just float around with the vast bulk of regular user-generated content content that corporations randomly filter out. Most of it has not been reviewed in any way.

Whatever happens on Election Day, dangerous actors trying to manipulate US citizens know that Twitter has turned down its security. Accordingly, we’re going to see all kinds of things under Musk’s new Twitter regime that’s pushing the boundaries of what’s allowed. Musk has already proven that he’s eager to rapidly change theories, not serial harassers or accounts spreading hate speech, to address the harshest punishment so far comedians who impersonate him,

What we haven’t seen to date inspires confidence that Twitter’s new owner will carry on with the program, no matter what the challenge to Twitter — and the threats to American democracy — it presents this week. .

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