Twitter goes one step further in the fight against coronavirus misinformation.
Executives announced in a company blog On Monday, Twitter would begin tweeting COVID-19 information that violates the advice and knowledge of public health experts. This includes tweets that contain misinformation in media such as videos and images.
Twitter previously announced it would flag or remove misinformation that could cause physical harm or widespread panic, including conspiracy theories. The Monday announcement extends the guidelines to content where damage is not so imminent.
An important clarification of the guideline took place shortly after the post on Twitter. When asked by reporters, Twitter manager Yoel Roth made it clear that the company’s new policy would apply to tweets and content from world leaders – including President Trump.
This is an important clarification since Twitter has not consistently applied its content policies to President Trump in the past. In addition, Trump lied and spread misinformation about coronavirus remedies, treatments, and progress.
These labels apply to anyone who shares misleading information that meets the requirements of our guidelines, including the world’s leading companies.
– Yoel Roth (@yoyoel) May 11, 2020
There are three ways to flag misinformation on Twitter. It could be removed if the information is outrageous and could cause damage in the real world. Twitter could gray out the tweet or content and put up a warning sign if the content contains a “controversial claim” and the damage potential is “serious”. Or it could get a label – which is basically a line of text pointing to other information – if the information misleads our controversial information but the damage potential is “moderate”. Here is a practical graphic.
It is not clear how Twitter finds the tweets that it identifies or that have warnings attached. In a section in the post, “How will we identify these tweets?” Twitter says that “internal systems for proactively monitoring content related to COVID-19” and “trusting trusted partners” are used for risk assessment at the tweets level. Not exactly transparent.
Social media and other technology companies have joined forces to combat misinformation about coronaviruses. But since the president himself is an outstanding source of this content, it’s a tough fight.