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Experts on disinformation talk Israel-Hamas: It’s a ‘toxic stew of an information environment’

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Palestinians inspect the damage of destroyed buildings following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, Friday, Oct. 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Abed Khaled)
Palestinians inspect the damage of destroyed buildings following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, Friday, Oct. 27, 2023.

After Hamas’ Oct. 7 surprise attack on Israel, observers quickly highlighted the deluge of disinformation and misinformation circulating over social media.  

In the days and weeks following the attack, the rapid inflow of images, videos and other raw sources of information — coupled with statements from the warring parties — influenced the headlines of major newspapers to problematic effects, prompting several outlets to issue apologies about aspects of their coverage, or further clarifications of early reports. 

The bombing of a hospital in Gaza on Oct. 17 is just one example — as both sides blamed the other, news outlets ran reports without all of the facts. Experts say that is because news agencies and fact-checkers covering the war are under extreme pressure to produce timely reports, with little capacity to verify claims. It’s just one of the many challenges of covering a war in the social media age.

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