Disinformation storm surrounding Bond hit marks end of Twitter as news destination | X


The disbelief surrounding the identity of the attacker reveals that the Australian media needs to shake its reliance on Elon Musk’s increasingly toxic platform.

Thu 18 Apr 2024 08.06 CEST

Last week’s harrowing local news stories confronted Australians with the limitations and possibilities of our modern media environment. Between the misinformation storm that engulfed the Bondi Junction massacre and the sobering verdict in the Bruce Lerman libel trial, Australians have been given an unusually stark choice between the media and the media we want.

It’s been a week and a year since six innocent people, including five women, were killed by a knife-wielding man in a Sydney shopping centre. Back home in Victoria, I found out about it from my mostly American group chat, who were seeing it on their newsfeeds and trying to figure out if I was close. I haven’t been, but the silly explanation I give to overseas friends that “Australia is a small village with an entire continent of its own” was quickly proven true. Within hours, I heard from social media that someone I knew was there, a deeply traumatized eyewitness to the events. I learned on Wednesday that another beloved family member of a friend was among the dead.

It is a strange paradox that the same media that provided direct, tangible and immediate news of the tragedy to the affected communities was also the site of the wild disinformation campaigns that exploited the killings, what I would describe as “the massacre”. Opportunism”. Before the final death toll was known, no one online and the “influencers” who support them decided that the 40-year-old Queensland man must simply be a Muslim terrorist… because of the beard.

Only Muslims were present at the scene of the attack. A refugee from Pakistan – a security guard – is killed by an assassin while trying to protect others from an attack.

But unmistakable tweets It was spread on the topic “must be a Muslim”. They have since been taken down, but the posters didn’t respond to thousands of furious edits by the time the anti-vax conspiracy theorist – currently holed up in the Russian consulate in Sydney evading arrest – posted on X (formerly Twitter). , fueling new rumors that the attacker was a Jewish Australian. On the same platform, much less attention was paid to the father of a 20-year-old university student named Benjamin Cohen, who online commentators now suggested was the killer and pleaded with people to stop making death threats against his son.

I have previously written How unscrupulous international actors are reshaping events in Australia to fit propagandistic narratives elsewhere. I wonder whose geopolitical interests it might be in to foment a furious divisiveness in the Muslim and Jewish communities of the West?

It is unlikely that I can reliably find out from X. once described as “The crystal method of newsroomsAn algorithm that once favored verified sources in the news has been deliberately destroyed by the conspiracy-theory-obsessed billionaire who now owns it – where nowadays, to buy, self-“verified” users can say from anywhere. Nothing to amplify and dominate the news conversation. Their desire to prove what they want their audience to believe is rewarded by the platform’s new policy of rewarding them for a certain level of engagement. As a result, journalists reporting directly from Bondi Junction were less visible and harder to find on X than a collection of extremist predators and their @PuffyTurd308203-style hate-mongering fans.

Unfortunately, some of the other info ops seem to be depending on X, even though Matthew is cut with poison. Channel Seven falsely reported – twice – a rumor implicating Cohen. Embarrassed, Channel Seven apologized, but Cohen takes legal action.

However, Channel Seven is not the only newsroom to have come under critical scrutiny in recent times. Judge Michael Lee announced his decision in Lerman’s defamation case on Monday. It included sharp criticism of media practices Around checks journalismPerceived media excoriation Arrogance and the need for journalistic advice beyond legitimate criticism. The grueling, expensive trial experience suggests that a rigid reset of old media practices is not only in the public interest, but (sigh) also in the interest of their brand value, best business practices and future market share.

Australians, who have watched in horror as social media has been allowed to steal the truth about a local tragedy before our eyes, will welcome him. X/Twitter was mortally wounded as a news outlet when Elon Musk bought it, but died in front of all Australians when it allowed the evil scapegoating of innocent communities amid horrific atrocities.

Musk’s failure is a masthead media opportunity – because why go through all the commercials when you can just go online and get your baseless lies for free?

• Van Badhem is a columnist for Guardian Australia

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