Governments And Media Spread Misinformation On Israel and Gaza While Demanding Censorship
Inaccurate reporting of the Gaza hospital bombing exposes the hypocrisy of those raising the alarm about "disinformation"
Dangerous amounts of misinformation about the Israel-Hamas war are spreading on social media, say governments and mainstream news organizations. “We don’t turn on our televisions or open news apps on our phones and find ourselves routinely inundated with misleading information,” wrote Bloomberg columnist Michael Arceneaux in the Washington Post today. ”The same can’t be said for social media. In the hours and days following Hamas’ attack, posts and videos with false information — including one from a video game — were viewed millions of times on X [formerly Twitter].”
“Social media disinformation spreads amid war in Israel,” read the headline of a CBS News article. The problem is the owner of X himself, Elon Musk, argued the Washington Post. “As false information about the rapidly changing war between Gaza Strip militants and Israel proliferated on the social media platform X over the weekend, owner Elon Musk personally recommended that users follow accounts notorious for promoting lies.” The BBC’s anti-misinformation unit, “Verify,” says it has been steadily debunking misinformation on X since Hamas’s terrorist attack.
“I’m so angry about how impossible it is to tell what’s real or fake on this site anymore,” wrote NBC’s Brandy Zadrozny on X. “There’s nowhere else to go so we all just stay here and act like anything is reliable. It wasn’t perfect but now all guardrails are gone, replaced by perverse incentives to fake. It’s awful.”
A European Union official, Thierry Breton, sent public letters to X, TikTok, and Facebook owner, Meta, warning them that they were spreading "illegal content," according to EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA), including video game videos.
But events from the last few days show that mainstream news media organizations and governments have themselves been spreading false information. The mainstream news media worldwide reported that Israel had bombed a hospital and killed 500 civilians, based on information they received from the Hamas-led Gazan Health Ministry.
The BBC produced some of the most misleading statements. “Hundreds feared dead or injured in Israeli airstrike on a hospital in Gaza, Palestinian officials say,” read BBC’s headline. "The Israeli military have said they are investigating,” reported a BBC Correspondent on air, “but it’s hard to see what else this could be, really, given the size of the explosion, other than an Israeli air strike or several air strikes." And it now appears likely that much of the rest of the reporting was either wrong or deeply misleading.