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X, formerly called Twitter, disabled its misinformation feature on the platform, effectively removing the option for users to report false election information, research organization Reset.Tech Australia reported on Wednesday. The company has recently been criticized for achieving the dubious honor as the number one platform to spread online hate and increased levels of misinformation.
In 2022, X introduced the option for users to report misleading or misinformation on the app, however, that option has now disappeared. When choosing to report a post or page, the drop-down menu gives the option report spam, suicide or self-harm, deceptive identities, sensitive material, and violent or hate speech, among others.
“It would be helpful to understand why X have seemingly gone backwards on their commitments to mitigating the kind of serious misinformation that has translated into real political instability in the US, especially on the eve of the ‘bumper year’ of elections globally,” Alice Dawkins, executive director of Reset, told Reuters.
Reset reported that X removed the “politics” category last week from every jurisdiction except the European Union, where the Digital Services Act (DSA) prevents social media from displaying misinformation on their platforms. Reset expressed its concern that the company removed the option to report electoral misinformation only weeks before the country votes on a “major referendum” to add an Indigenous voice to Australia’s parliament, in an open letter to Angus Keene, managing director of Australia and New Zealand and former X sales director.
In the letter, Reset told Keene that X’s new policy removing the option to report misinformation violates Digi’s Australian Code of Practice on Disinformation and Misinformation, which requires social media platforms to allow users to “report content or behaviors to Signatories that violate their policies … through publicly available and accessible reporting tools.”
In 2021, X, then-Twitter, announced it was adding the option to report misinformation, writing in a tweet, “… Some people in the U.S., South Korea, and Australia will find the option to flag a tweet as “It’s misleading” after clicking on Report Tweet.”
Since Musk took over X in October of last year, it has been accused of allowing misinformation to flourish with European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova saying in prepared remarks on Tuesday that “Disinformation actors were found to have significantly more followers … and tend to have joined the platform more recently than non-disinformation users.”
The EU confirmed in April that X was one of the top 19 platforms that is most strictly regulated under the DSA, but a month later Musk removed X from the EU’s Code of Practice on Disinformation. The exit came after EU lawmakers warned him that the platform was responsible for boosting Kremlin propaganda for the Ukraine War.
In June, Commissioner Julie Inman Grant told CNN she sent X a legal notice pressuring the company to explain the complaints she received about online hate and misinformation on the platform. “We need accountability from these platforms and action to protect their users, and you cannot have accountability without transparency and that’s what legal notices like this one are designed to achieve,” she told the outlet.
Gizmodo reached out to X for comment but received an auto-reply that said: “Busy now. Please check back later.”