Espreso. Global

EU calls Musk's social network "X" largest source of Russian disinformation

26 September, 2023 Tuesday

After analyzing reports on how tech companies deal with disinformation, the European Union has recognized billionaire Elon Musk's social network X (formerly Twitter) as the largest means of spreading Russian lies and propaganda

Bloomberg reports about this.

Věra Jourová, Vice President of the European Commission, said that the platforms need to act ahead of the national and European elections to be held next year.

"This is a multi-million euro weapon of mass manipulation aimed both internally at the Russians as well as Europeans and the rest of the world. The very large platforms must address this risk. Especially that we have to expect that the Kremlin and others will be active before our European elections," she said.

Most major tech companies, including Facebook Meta Platforms, Google, and TikTok, have agreed to work with the EU on a voluntary code of conduct that aims to set industry standards for fact-checking and other measures. The bloc has also implemented a pilot project to assess the extent of the problem.

"X, former Twitter, who is not under the code any more, is the platform with the largest ratio of mis- or disinformation posts. The pilot also showed that disinformation actors were found to have significantly more followers than their non-disinformation counterparts and tend to have joined the platform more recently than non-disinformation users," Jourová said.


The European Commission vice president called on Twitter to "comply with hard law" as the social network is recognized as a major online platform.

Jourová also said that the impact of Russian disinformation is particularly acute in Slovakia, where elections are being held on Saturday.

"Slovakia has been chosen as the country where there is fertile ground for success of the Russian pro-Kremlin, pro-war narratives. The election this week will be a test case because the approach to Russian war in Ukraine is a divisive line," she said, adding that Facebook and Google have taken some steps to strengthen their efforts to combat fake news following pressure from the EU.

Elon Musk's shutdown of Starlink in Crimea

Writer Walter Isaacson wrote about the Starlink shutdown in his biography of Elon Musk. According to him, the businessman was afraid that the Armed Forces of Ukraine would use the technology to strike at the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

Musk, in turn, said that he did not disconnect Starlink in Crimea, but rejected Ukraine's request to reconnect it.

"SpaceX did not deactivate anything. There was an emergency request from government authorities to activate Starlink all the way to Sevastopol. The obvious intent being to sink most of the Russian fleet at anchor. If I had agreed to their request, then SpaceX would be explicitly complicit in a major act of war and conflict escalation," the businessman explained.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the head of the Presidential Office, called Musk's actions a mixture of ignorance and a big ego, which resulted in numerous human casualties.

Later, Musk said that he did not consider himself a traitor for shutting down Starlink satellite internet in the temporarily occupied Crimea.

"I am a citizen of the United States and have only that passport. No matter what happens, I will fight for and die in America. The United States Congress did not declare war on Russia. If anyone is treasonous, it is those who call me such," the billionaire said.

Viktor Shlinchak, Chairman of the Board of the Institute of World Policy, believes that Elon Musk plans to join the political establishment.

The American billionaire Elon Musk deactivated Starlink not only in Crimea but also in Donbas, reportedly with the intention of preventing the Ukrainian Armed Forces from using the technology during the counteroffensive. This is stated in Musk's biography, written by writer Walter Isaacson.

It is worth noting that this is not the first scandal involving Musk. Last year, his SpaceX company informed the Pentagon that it refused to finance Starlink satellite communications services in Ukraine. Eventually, the US took over the costs.

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