Community Notes, Elon Musk‘s solution to combating misinformation on X (formerly Twitter), is barely able to keep up with a wave of graphic media, false claims, and hateful content relating to the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The fact-checking feature depends on approved volunteers to suggest and then vote on notes that can be attached to posts. Once voted on, the notes are published once they are deemed “helpful” by “people with different points of view,” according to X.
On Tuesday, the platform stated that notes “related to the attacks” aimed to address “a wide range of topics from out-of-context war footage, to unrelated or outdated protest/celebration videos, to fake videos made with game simulators, to claims of US funding related to conflict.” However, according to a review by NBC News, false posts with hundreds of thousands of views remain without any notes, while other notes have languished unapproved for sometimes days on posts that garnered tens of thousands of views.
The outlet gained access to the feature’s volunteer interface via an approved Community Notes member and reviewed two debunked pieces of Israel-Hamas misinformation: a false claim that President Joe Biden was sending $8 billion in military aid to Israel and fake reports that Gaza’s St. Porphyrius Orthodox Church was bombed.
According to NBC News, out of 120 posts related to those since-debunked posts, only eight percent received a published community note and 26 percent had unpublished notes still waiting for approval.
“All weekend we were furiously vetting, writing, and approving Community Notes on hundreds of posts which were demonstrably fake news,” Kim Picazio, a Community Notes volunteer, said on Instagram’s Threads. “It took 2+ days for the backroom to press whatever button to finally make all our warnings publicly viewable. By that time… You know the rest of that sentence.”
Despite the delays, the platform has touted its ability to fight misinformation. A post from @CommunityNotes on Oct. 3, stated that “[s]tarting today, notes will appear an average of 1.5 hours faster, and as much as 3.5 hours faster in some cases.”
On Monday, X CEO Linda Yaccarino claimed that “Community Notes now appear more quickly on X. They’re a vital tool for adding context and combating potential misinformation. Become part of this important community.”
However, according to NBC News, about two-thirds of the top posts reviewed had no proposed or published Community Notes attached to them.
Meanwhile, a top European Union official on Tuesday warned Elon Musk to get a handle on misinformation and other harmful content being distributed on X amid escalating hostilities between Israeli armed forces and Hamas militants.
The Sunday prior, the billionaire directed his nearly 160 million X followers to follow accounts known for disseminating lies. “For following the war in real-time, @WarMonitors & @sentdefender are good,” Musk posted in the since-deleted tweet. Notably, the War Monitor account is known for its antisemitic posts.
Adding to the flood of confusion on the platform, X removed headlines from articles posted on the platform, allowing users to couple inaccurate or misleading posts with legitimate news articles. Since Musk’s takeover of X, the CEO has dissolved its trust and safety council and fired nearly half of its Election Integrity Team fighting disinformation.