As verified accounts on X, formerly Twitter, continue to spread misinformation on the violent conflict between Hamas and Israel, Elon Musk 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 on X Sunday morning. He added, “It is also worth following direct sources on the ground. Please add interesting options in replies below.”
In his own post, CNN’s Jake Tapper took a screenshot of Musk’s post next to a screenshot of a derogatory message from the War Monitor account to a user named Avi Kaner. In the caption, Tapper wrote, “Elon Musk lauds this bigot as a good source of information, part Infiniti.”
A year ago, the War Monitors account thanked Kanye West in a Twitter thread and claimed that “the overwhelming majority of people in the media and banks are zi0nists” and told another X user in June “go worship a jew lil bro.”
Emerson T. Brooking, a researcher at the Atlantic Council Digital Forensics Research Lab, wrote on X that @sentdefender is an “absolutely poisonous account. regularly posting wrong and unverifiable things (“sources say”). inserting random editorialization and trying to juice its paid subscriber count.”
Both accounts shared by Musk spread the false report in May of an explosion at the White House, leading to a brief dip in the stock market before the story was debunked.
In August, a hashtag campaign pushed by right-wing ideologues and rife with antisemitic content began to trend on X, and was shown support by owner Musk. As a number of accounts began tweeting #BanTheADL, they called on Musk to remove the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) — a civil rights organization focused on combating antisemitism and extremism — from the site.
Keith Woods, an Irish YouTuber with connections to prominent white supremacists including Richard Spencer and Nick Fuentes, amplified the hashtag in a post that falsely alleged that the ADL is “financially blackmailing social media companies into removing free speech on their platform.” Musk engaged with Woods, first by liking the post, then by replying that “ADL has tried very hard to strangle X/Twitter.”
One year after Musk’s take over of X, the social media platform has dissolved its trust and safety council, reinstated right-wing extremists and peddlers of misinformation previously banned from the platform, censored journalists critical of Musk (they have since been un-suspended), and reportedly saw an increase in hate speech on the site — the billionaire threatened to sue the researchers documenting the rise in hateful tweets.