Skip to content

Atlantic Council Watchdog Warns: "Uncensored" News Still Reaching Public

On Dec. 21, the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab, acting as the self-appointed cyber uebermenschen, released a report surveying the effect that cyber-censorship programs were having on “controlling the narrative” within the social media world. “Distortion by Design, How social media platforms shaped our initial understanding of the Israel-Hamas conflict” concentrates its investigation on four global platforms: Telegram, X, Meta and Tik Tok, revealing the vastly different world-view created by various content-control filtering.

The platform with the least content control was identified as Telegram, the place where the earliest images of the Hamas attack (and the Israeli response) were made available to the public. Registered in Dubai, UAE, its CEO— Russian national Pavel Durov— they claim is notoriously averse to censorship, which has led to “chaotic, unfiltered and unverified battlefield footage” being made available to the general public. “As Israel began to respond to the attacks militarily,” the report said, “Telegram continued to host a large volume of primary source material, including the bloody aftermath of airstrikes and shelling in Gaza and clips of IDF soldiers encircling and neutralizing Hamas militants,” something which Telegram had also done during the Ukraine conflict.

Suffering a similar denunciation was X, albeit for different reasons. Because of changes they blame on Elon Musk— who flushed out and fired four FBI agents on the content-control board— they assert that “a chaotic information environment [prevails,] with users struggling to sort fact from fiction, and the proliferation of graphic content for both evidentiary and propaganda purposes.” Yet, the platform “has remained popular among journalists, policymakers, and other political elites, [meaning] that many influential groups still turn first to X to understand—and shape the understanding of—fast-moving events.”

This post is for paying subscribers only


Already have an account? Sign In