A number of unverified and false rumors involving the Israel-Hamas war have been circulating on social media in recent days. There was a false claim that a top Israeli commander was kidnapped. A doctored White House memo about billions in aid for Israel was circulated.
There was even a clip from a video game that claimed to be footage from the conflict.
Ido Levy, associate fellow at the Washington Institute, says it is becoming increasingly challenging to separate fact from fiction online.
"We have more and more things coming on social media," he said. "And it's very hard to immediately verify them because they're coming in real time. And it's important to make sure that it's not fake information. But what Hamas does and what these terrorist organizations do is they try to exploit this for their own goals."
These posts, Levy said, can sometimes directly lead to violence.
"What they really want here is to spread fear, to show strength, possibly to also inspire their allies and supporters, to inspire attacks elsewhere against Jewish communities, against Israeli interests," Levy said. "And the problem, I will say it's not only social media, there is also mainstream media that has been amplifying these messages, sometimes unwittingly sharing these images."
One social media outlet in particular has been taken to task for allegedly allowing misinformation to spread. The Associated Press reported that the European Union pressed X owner Elon Musk to remove "fake and manipulated content." X said it has pulled hundreds of Hamas-backed accounts in response to the European Union's concerns.
Levy said groups like Hamas have learned how to leverage social media to their advantage.
"I think over the years they've learned that this is an effective tactic, especially with ISIS," he said. "We've seen they invested a lot in their own media capabilities, creating these professional-looking videos, and they've learned that this is effective, that this is a way to inspire recruits."
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