Twitter introduces labels, warnings for misleading coronavirus information

Twitter said Monday that in some cases it’ll add labels and warning messages to tweets that contain misleading or disputed information about the novel coronavirus , a sign that the company is stepping up its efforts to crack down on misinformation.

Misinformation about COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, has been an ongoing challenge for social networks. False claims that encourage people to drink bleach or not wear masks can be harmful to people’s health. Despite these efforts, conspiracy theories and hoaxes continue to spread on social media sites.

Twitter said the new labels and warning messages will provide more information and context about the misleading tweets, an approach that is in line with how other sites such as Facebook handle misinformation.

“Moving forward, we may use these labels and warning messages to provide additional explanations or clarifications in situations where the risks of harm associated with a tweet are less severe but where people may still be confused or misled by the content,” said Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of site integrity, and Nick Pickles, who heads the company’s public policy, in a blog post.

If the information in the tweet is false or misleading but has a likelihood of causing “moderate” harm, Twitter will label the tweet rather than remove it. The company will add a label and a warning to claims that are contested or unknown but have a likelihood of causing severe harm. Twitter won’t take any action if the information hasn’t been to be confirmed as true or false. 

In the warning notice, Twitter users will see a message that states “Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet conflicts with guidance from public health experts regarding COVID-19” followed by a link to learn more. A label displayed underneath the tweet has a link that states “Get the facts about COVID-19” that will direct users to more information.

Last week, Twitter and other social networks were grappling with a viral video that contained various conspiracy theories about the coronavirus pandemic. Unlike Facebook or YouTube, Twitter didn’t remove the videos but marked the links to the video as unsafe.

The company has removed tweets that contained harmful coronavirus misinformation from politicians including Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.


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