Never let a crisis go to waste.
Twitter announced new rules on Wednesday to crack down on coronavirus talk that is not factual. Twitter even included jokes and false and misleading statements on the disease or treatments.
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The tech giant will allow only acceptable and approved language on the coronavirus on their platform.
This may appear like a sensible move but is another step forward in banning free speech in America today.
No more unapproved jokes.
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Steps we’re taking
As we continue to provide guidance to our employees that they must work from home to support self-distancing efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, we also need to operationally pivot our core efforts to keep people safe on Twitter.
Starting this week and in place during this outbreak, we’ll be making the below changes to our policy enforcement approach:
Increasing our use of machine learning and automation to take a wide range of actions on potentially abusive and manipulative content. We want to be clear: while we work to ensure our systems are consistent, they can sometimes lack the context that our teams bring, and this may result in us making mistakes. As a result, we will not permanently suspend any accounts based solely on our automated enforcement systems. Instead, we will continue to look for opportunities to build in human review checks where they will be most impactful. We appreciate your patience as we work to get it right – this is a necessary step to scale our work to protect the conversation on Twitter.
Broadening our definition of harm to address content that goes directly against guidance from authoritative sources of global and local public health information. Rather than reports, we will enforce this in close coordination with trusted partners, including public health authorities and governments, and continue to use and consult with information from those sources when reviewing content. Under this new guidance, we will require people to remove tweets that include:
- Denial of global or local health authority recommendations to decrease someone’s likelihood of exposure to COVID-19 with the intent to influence people into acting against recommended guidance, such as: “social distancing is not effective”, or actively encouraging people to not socially distance themselves in areas known to be impacted by COVID-19.
- Description of treatments or protective measures which are not immediately harmful but are known to be ineffective, are not applicable to the COVID-19 context, or are being shared with the intent to mislead others, even if made in jest, such as “coronavirus is not heat-resistant – walking outside is enough to disinfect you” or “use aromatherapy and essential oils to prevent COVID-19.”
- Description of harmful treatments or protection measures which are known to be ineffective, do not apply to COVID-19, or are being shared out of context to mislead people, even if made in jest, such as “drinking bleach and ingesting colloidal silver will cure COVID-19.”
- Denial of established scientific facts about transmission during the incubation period or transmission guidance from global and local health authorities, such as “COVID-19 does not infect children because we haven’t seen any cases of children being sick.”
- Specific claims around COVID-19 information that’s intends to manipulate people into certain behavior for the gain of a third party with a call to action within the claim, such as “coronavirus is a fraud and not real – go out and patronize your local bar!!” or “the news about washing your hands is propaganda for soap companies, stop washing your hands” or “ignore news about COVID-19, it’s just an attempt to destroy capitalism by crashing the stock market.”
- Specific and unverified claims that incite people to action and cause widespread panic, social unrest or large-scale disorder, such as “The National Guard just announced that no more shipments of food will be arriving for 2 months – run to the grocery store ASAP and buy everything!”
- Specific and unverified claims made by people impersonating a government or health official or organization such as a parody account of an Italian health official stating that the country’s quarantine is over.
- Propagating false or misleading information around COVID-19 diagnostic criteria or procedures such as “if you can hold your breath for 10 seconds, you do not have coronavirus.”
- False or misleading claims on how to differentiate between COVID-19 and a different disease, and if that information attempts to definitively diagnose someone, such as “if you have a wet cough, it’s not coronavirus – but a dry cough is” or “you’ll feel like you’re drowning in snot if you have coronavirus – it’s not a normal runny nose.”
- Claims that specific groups, nationalities are never susceptible to COVID-19, such as “people with dark skin are immune to COVID-19 due to melanin production” or “reading the Quran will make an individual immune to COVID-19.”
- Claims that specific groups, nationalities are more susceptible to COVID-19, such as “avoid businesses owned by Chinese people as they are more likely to have COVID-19.”
Building systems that enable our team to continue to enforce our rules remotely around the world. We’re also increasing our employee assistance and wellness support for everyone involved in this critical work, and ensuring people’s privacy and security stay a top priority.
Instituting a global content severity triage system so we are prioritizing the potential rule violations that present the biggest risk of harm and reducing the burden on people to report them.
Executing daily quality assurance checks on our content enforcement processes to ensure we’re agile in responding to this rapidly evolving, global disease outbreak.
Engaging with our partners around the world to ensure escalation paths remain open and urgent cases can be brought to our at