Twitter has updated its COVID-19 policies to require users remove tweets making unverified claims that “incite people to action and cause widespread panic, social unrest or large-scale disorder.”
The changes come as COVID-19 misinformation has spread across social media that has incited people to act rashly. For example, people have set British 5G towers on fire because of conspiracy theories that falsely link the spread of COVID-19 to the rollout of 5G — which is probably why Twitter specifically mentions that tweets inciting people to damage 5G infrastructure are included in the new guidance.
We have broadened our guidance on unverified claims that incite people to engage in harmful activity, could lead to the destruction or damage of critical 5G infrastructure, or could lead to widespread panic, social unrest, or large-scale disorder.— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) April 22, 2020
“We’re prioritizing the removal of COVID-19 content when it has a call to action that could potentially cause harm,” a Twitter spokesperson said to TechCrunch. However, it seems the company won’t remove every tweet. “As we’ve said previously, we will not take enforcement action on every Tweet that contains incomplete or disputed information about COVID-19,” the statement continues.
Twitter has also removed over 2,230 tweets with “misleading and potentially harmful content” since introducing updated policies regarding COVID-19 content on March 18th, the company said today. Those policies stated that Twitter would require people to remove tweets that included content that could increase the chance of someone contracting or transmitting COVID-19.
Content that increases the chance that someone contracts or transmits the virus, including:— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) March 18, 2020
- Denial of expert guidance
- Encouragement to use fake or ineffective treatments, preventions, and diagnostic techniques
- Misleading content purporting to be from experts or authorities
Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube announced that they had jointly made a pledge to fight coronavirus-related misinformation on March 16th.