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Monday, December 11, 2023

Social Media Firms Deploy Crisis Teams to Combat Gaza Misinformation

John Evans, the Digital Services Commissioner for Ireland, has observed a surge in activity among social media platforms in response to the spread of misinformation regarding the Israel-Gaza conflict. He noted that some of these platforms have taken proactive measures, such as deploying crisis response teams and experts proficient in specific languages to address posts related to the conflict in Gaza.

Mr. Evans, appointed under the Digital Services Act, holds the responsibility of ensuring that these platforms effectively regulate content, particularly misinformation. He highlighted that, under the Act, these platforms are now obliged to establish a mechanism for individuals to report objectionable content and request its removal. Users dissatisfied with the initial response can also file an appeal.

He emphasized the presence of additional checks and balances that empower individuals in governing platform content. Currently, the powers of his office remain limited as its functions have not yet been ratified under the Digital Services Act, which is anticipated to be passed early next year.

Also Read: Antisemitic Incidents Surge Fourfold in UK Following Hamas Attack in Israel

Due to these current limitations, Mr. Evans has been in informal contact with social media platforms. Nevertheless, he asserted that making a complaint is not in vain, as the proliferation of misinformation can have significant adverse effects, and it can be exploited by various actors for different motives. He also pointed out that “malicious actors” often exploit crises and noted that the EU Commission has reminded platforms of their responsibilities in this regard.

He mentioned that the media has shown sufficient concern about this issue, and the EU Commission has issued information requests to certain platforms, with relatively short response deadlines. The situation is evolving rapidly and is quite fluid.

Earlier in the week, the company previously known as Twitter announced its efforts to address a deluge of posts sharing graphic content, violent rhetoric, and hate speech related to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

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