This past spring, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman warned lawmakers on Capitol Hill that he thinks there will be “a tsunami of disinformation” in the 2024 election, with artificial intelligence being the primary tool to compromise the electoral battle for Republican and Democratic hearts. Of course, social media will play a critical role in how voters cast a ballot, and some companies are beginning to brace for this expected tidal wave of disinformation. X, formerly known as Twitter, is one of these social networks.
Elon Musk Hires for 2024 Election
When billionaire CEO Elon Musk took over the social media outlet, he canned about 80% of the workforce. For the first time since acquiring the website, Musk is hiring workers again, including content moderators. Several reports suggest that X has already hired new employees and is interviewing more to bolster policing posts reporting fictitious information and employing deepfakes. Musk is looking to fill plenty of full-time positions, including the role of head of civic integrity. In addition, X will unveil a “Community Notes” feature for political ads, allowing users to flag AI content.
X CEO Linda Yaccarino told CNBC earlier this month that the business was considering hiring people again. “I get to come in and shift from this cost discipline to growth, and what does growth mean? Growth means hiring,” Yaccarino said in an interview with the business news network.
Does this mean the days of Twitter censorship have returned? It is doubtful that Musk plans to censor news publishers a la the Hunter Biden laptop story by The New York Post, but there will be debate surrounding authenticity. This is where the X user base will have an integral part in election season.
2024 Election Disinformation ‘Nightmare’
The mainstream media would have you believe that an image of pro-Clinton Satan arm-wrestling Jesus in the 2016 election, posted by Russian trolls, swayed voters ahead of Election Day. Nearly eight years later, some think generative AI depicting President Joe Biden in a negative light will also persuade voters to reject the incumbent. Considering his record since Inauguration Day, it is unlikely millions of Americans need to be duped to realize the damage of Bidenomics.
Still, with another presidential election on the horizon, AI is becoming prevalent in good old politicking.
In June, the 2024 campaign for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) employed an AI-generated image of former President Donald Trump hugging Dr. Anthony Fauci. In a collage of six images of the two figures, there were three fakes of Trump embracing Fauci. A month later, a pro-DeSantis super political action committee, Never Back Down, was caught using an AI version of Trump’s voice in an advertisement attacking the billionaire real estate mogul. The group had also utilized AI to superimpose a fighter jet into a pro-DeSantis ad.
Could this be the reality this election cycle? The expert class is undoubtedly sounding the alarm. The Federal Election Commission is also worried, warning that it could possibly regulate AI deepfakes in political campaign ads. Dozens of Democratic lawmakers, led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), penned a letter to the agency to regulate politics-related AI. “Quickly evolving AI technology makes it increasingly difficult for voters to accurately identify fraudulent video and audio material, which is increasingly troubling in the context of campaign advertisements,” the letter stated.
However, as usual, the US government may think the American people are too naïve and asinine to spot fake content circulating throughout social media. The DeSantis ads, for example, were immediately discovered by popular online figure Tim Pool. While the production tools to manufacture AI content have evolved in the last year, it is still easy to determine what is fake and what is real. Plus, other authentication techniques, be it watermarks or metadata, are available.
In the end, a Community Notes-like feature will easily decipher AI content and serve as a valuable tool for folks still gullible enough to fall for some of the ridiculous posts found on X and elsewhere.
X Gon’ Give It to Ya
So, are the rumors of X’s death greatly exaggerated? First, the lack of engineers was going to kill the platform. Then a boycott was going to eviscerate the Twitterverse. At last, the rise of Meta’s Threads would serve as the death knell of X. Well, Elon Musk’s $44 billion investment is surviving and thriving. In fact, the latest hiring news dispels the notion that left-leaning personalities and outlets have been peddling all year long: X is on the cusp of collapse. While there are several bugs and features that need to be remedied, the website has been functioning much better than the same time a year ago. The final triumph will be allowing free speech and the free flow of information during the 2024 election.
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