Twitter, now X, was once a useful site for breaking news. The Baltimore bridge collapse shows those days are long gone.

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    142 months ago

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    The same conspiracy-theory-peddling personalities who spammed X with posts claiming that Tuesday’s Baltimore bridge collapse was a deliberate attack have also called mass shootings “false flag” events and denied basic facts about the Covid-19 pandemic.

    A Florida Republican running for Congress blamed “DEI” for the bridge collapse as racist comments about immigration and Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott circulated among the far right.

    As conspiracy theorists compete for attention in the wake of a tragedy, others seek engagement through dubious expertise, juicy speculation, or stolen video clips.

    The boundary between conspiracy theory and engagement bait is permeable; unfounded and provoking posts often outpace the trickle of verified information that follows any sort of major breaking news event.

    First, it was happening after a few big shifts in what the internet even is, as Twitter, once a go-to space for following breaking news events, became an Elon Musk-owned factory for verified accounts with bad ideas, while generative AI tools have superpowered grifters wanting to make plausible text and visual fabrications.

    Being online during a tragic event is full of consequential nonsense like this, ideas and conspiracy theories that are inane enough to fall into the fog of Poe’s Law and yet harmful to actual people and painful to see in particular when it’s your community being turned into views.


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