Twitter works to remove ‘Fake news’ tweets which could worsen COVID-19 pandemic

Twitter is going forward taking extra steps to remove tweets that put people at risk of contracting the novel coronavirus as it rapidly sweeps through communities around the globe.

On Wednesday, Twitter updated its safety policy to prohibit tweets that “could place people at a higher risk of transmitting COVID-19.” The new policy bans tweets denying expert guidance on the virus, encouraging “fake or ineffective treatments, preventions and diagnostic techniques” as well as tweets that mislead users by pretending to be from health authorities or experts.

Twitter says

Protecting the conversation
The power of a uniquely open service during a public health emergency is clear. The speed and borderless nature of Twitter presents an extraordinary opportunity to get the word out and ensure people have access to the latest information from expert sources around the world.

To support that mission, our global Trust & Safety team is continuing its zero-tolerance approach to platform manipulation and any other attempts to abuse our service at this critical juncture. At present, we’re not seeing significant coordinated platform manipulation efforts around these issues. However, we will remain vigilant and have invested substantially in our proactive abilities to ensure trends, search, and other common areas of the service are protected from malicious behaviors. As ever, we also welcome constructive and open information sharing from governments and academics to further our work in these areas — we’re in this together.

Twitter’s policies thus lay out an aggressive and fluid approach that we don’t always see from social networks. We’ll be following along to see how the platform experiment goes in the coming days and if Twitter can help stem the flow of potentially lethal misinformation as the world wakes up to the global threat of COVID-19.

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