Twitter CEO Elon Musk released a statement outlining how the platform will conduct election integrity and content moderation, including hate and harassment, after the platform took action against several networks that sought to influence or impact American political discourse ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
In a series of tweets, Musk said he was considering reinstating some accounts on the platform and implementing a content moderation board.
“Twitter will not allow anyone who has been removed from the platform for violating Twitter rules until we have a clear process to do so, which will take at least a few more weeks,” Musk said. in a tweet to his 113 million followers.
The CEO added, “Twitter’s Content Moderation Council will include representatives with widely differing views, which will certainly include the civil rights community and groups facing hate-fueled violence.”
Musk also said he spoke to several civil society leaders, including Jonathan Greenblatt of the Anti-Defamation League, Norman Chen of the Asian American Foundation, Derrick Johnson of the NAACP and more about how Twitter “will continue to fight against hate and harassment and to enforce its election integrity policies”. .”
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Musk’s tweets came after the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP), a nonpartisan coalition founded in 2020 to track and combat misinformation on social media, announced that Twitter had suspended six pro-Republican and pro-Democrat networks. primarily located outside of the United States who allegedly intend to influence the upcoming elections.
“On October 26, 2022, Twitter released six datasets for the Twitter Moderation Research Consortium, comprised of six separate inauthentic networks with technical ties to China and Iran that had tweeted about the November 2022 midterm elections. in the United States,” EIP said in its analysis, published Nov. 1.
According to EIP, the six networks, some of which included more than 100,000 tweets from various users, were ultimately suspended for violating Twitter’s platform manipulation and spamming policy.
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“Content broadcast by five of the six networks focused primarily on US politics, and in particular the midterm elections scheduled for November 8, 2022. The sixth focused on a litany of geopolitical issues, including the Russian-Ukrainian war and U.S. foreign policy toward China, with some scattered mid-term commentary,” EIP added.
The networks included: 10Votes, EvenPolitics, Follow Back Resistance, Florida Anti-Rubio Network, the conservative #LeadFromWithin Network and the Pro-China Network.
Yoel Roth, head of security and integrity at Twitter, confirmed the actions as Twitter “remains vigilant” to stop election influence.
“We remain vigilant against attempts to manipulate conversations about the 2022 U.S. midterm elections. Read on for an independent analysis of our teams’ work,” he said.
10Votes consisted of five accounts with 5,832 tweets that included messages, most posted from two accounts between December 2021 and September 2022, according to EIP.
A main network account posted pro-Trump messages, including challenges to the legitimacy of the 2020 election. The accounts shared “memes and endorsement messages” from some congressional candidates and discouraged abortion, among other liberal social issues.
Another account within the network posed as a “progressive political advocacy organization,” which tweeted its support for various Democratic candidates in races across the country, including “congressional districts #MI11, #NY03, #OH11 and #TX38,” EIP reported.
The account also tagged numerous political figures, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, AP senatorial candidate John Fetterman, Sen. Ed Markey, Sen. Jeff Merkley and others.
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The EvenPolitics network was made up of 37 accounts that sent 109,410 tweets from 2020 to 2022.
According to the report, most of the accounts shared pro-“resistance” posts supporting Democratic, Black Lives Matter and LGBTQIA content.
Follow Back Resistance, a network of 16 accounts and 24,579 tweets, also shared content appealing to left-leaning communities, including anti-Trump sentiments, posts about Roe v. Wade and “Free Palestine”.
EIP determined that these accounts aimed to amplify “strong opinions on polarizing issues in American politics” and potentially influence those “who might vote in a way more aligned” with their views.
According to its website, the EIP’s goal is “to empower the research community, election officials, government agencies, civil society organizations, social media platforms and others to defend our elections against those who seek to undermine them by exploiting weaknesses in the online information environment.”
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Their analysis was conducted with the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO), the Center for an Informed Public (CIP) at the University of Washington, Graphika, the Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) at the Atlantic Council.
In its conclusion, the EIP said, “We hope this assessment of inauthentic activity on Twitter provides useful visibility into the tactics of incentivized foreign parties who wish to influence American political discourse, particularly around elections.”
“Despite the relatively small number of engagements these networks have made, operations like these reinforce that foreign interference is ongoing, and that the platform’s integrity teams working alongside researchers to find, assess and disrupt these manipulation operations remain essential to stop them while they are still small,” he added.
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