Elon Musk Shares Election Falsehoods on X Platform Without Fact-Checking

In the spring of 2020, President Donald J. Trump wrote messages on Twitter warning that increased reliance on mail-in ballots would lead to a “rigged Election.” Twitter ran a corrective, debunking his claims and providing links to articles explaining that mail-in ballots are very rarely linked to voter fraud.

When Elon Musk bought Twitter and rebranded it X, he began echoing the same false claims about the American voting system, suggesting widespread fraud and illegal voting by noncitizens. However, this time there were no fact checks and Mr. Musk’s control over the platform allowed these posts to reach large audiences, drawing many millions of views.

Mr. Musk has since dismantled the platform’s system for flagging false election content, arguing that it amounted to election interference. His control over the popular social media platform is raising concerns among civil rights lawyers, election administrators, and Democrats who worry that he will reignite doubts about the American election system that were prevalent in the lead-up to the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot.

The Biden campaign has criticized Mr. Musk’s handling of election content on X, calling it irresponsible to spread false information and sow distrust about how elections operate, especially coming from the owner of a large social media platform.

In rebuttal, pro-Trump Republicans and others who thought that the old Twitter was part of a government-controlled censorship regime that aided Mr. Biden in 2020 welcomed the changes. Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Harmeet K. Dhillon, dismissed the Democrats’ complaints, stating that the platform is now better for conservatives.

The new X platform and Mr. Musk’s interference in the 2024 election has caused concern that no major media owner has used his platform as aggressively and personally in an American election. Mr. Musk has disregarded complaints and calls to block content that might degrade confidence in democracy.

The platform’s algorithm has been adjusted to promote those who pay to be “verified,” including previously banned accounts. One such account circulated a dossier with false charges about the 2020 election and drew nearly 22 million views. The platform’s more lenient policy still addresses posts that incite violence, include verifiably false information about voting, or mislead about eligibility laws.

Mr. Musk’s posts have perpetuated doubts about the American election system, such as falsely claiming that undocumented immigrants can vote in federal elections and expressing disbelief at the lack of a requirement for government-issued ID to vote. Such posts along with stories about absentee ballot fraud have contributed to a growing climate of doubt among millions of Americans.

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