X ‘Community notes’ used in attempts to discredit coverage of Israeli crimes in Gaza

X ‘Community notes’ used in attempts to discredit coverage of Israeli crimes in Gaza
Community Notes on X have been misused repeatedly by malicious social media users and disinformation networks since the 7 October attack.
3 min read
22 February, 2024
Disinformation is rife on social media since the October 7 attack and the ensuing war on Gaza [Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images]

Unknown users on the social media platform X have been adding Community Notes to photos posted by Israeli soldiers on social media to cast doubts on the credibility of reports of Israeli soldiers looting homes and businesses in Gaza. 

One photograph seen by The New Arab showed two Israeli soldiers posing with a pink bra against a background filled with damaged buildings, which seems to indicate the civilian underwear was stolen by soldiers in a war zone, likely Gaza. 

It was shared by Palestinian journalist Younis Tirawi on X with the following caption: “Israeli soldiers display lingerie belonging to a displaced/killed Palestinian woman from the city.”

Another social media user immediately responded using Community Notes in an attempt to discredit the statement.

“The bra was not taken from a displaced/killed Palestinian woman. This is a new bra. You can see the price tag still attached,” read a note added by one user.

“Trying to justify the act by saying the bra was only stolen (war crime) as opposed to stolen from a civilian (war crime) is not the flex they think it is,” a third X user tweeted in response.

The incident is part of a broader trend of social media users weaponising X’s Community Notes to push a one-sided narrative in Israel’s war on Gaza, or to weaken the credibility of sources reporting on the war on social media.

This misuse aligns with the initial purpose of Community Notes, deployed in 2023 to offer user-generated fact-checks on viral content, which has since been co-opted by disinformation campaigns, particularly in the aftermath of the 7 October attacks

In the hours that followed the 7 October attacks, some X users already started weaponising the Community Notes feature to discredit images of dead Israeli victims and deny the massacre had taken place at all. These users posted Community Notes falsely characterising the images as fake, and later asked other users to rate these notes as “helpful” to give them more weight on the platform.

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In an apparent reversal of this dynamic, Community Notes have also been used to deny crimes committed by Israeli soldiers against Palestinians in the Gaza strip.

Palestinian journalist Younis Tirawi has posted numerous photos showing Israeli soldiers looting or posing in Palestinians’ homes in Gaza. Most have not received community notes, but the one recently added to Tirawi’s post may aim to cast doubts on the credibility of information he has shared in the past.