Spread COVID-19 theories on Twitter and you’ll soon have a label slapped on your tweet, as the social media platform begins cracking down on “misleading information”.
From today, Twitter will label or simply remove false information – and repeat offenders could find themselves permanently banned.
In a blog post on its site, Twitter said it had observed the “emergence of persistent conspiracy theories, alarmist rhetoric unfounded in research or credible reporting and a wide range of unsubstantiated rumours” which had left people unable to make informed decisions about their health.
Twitter’s ‘COVID-19 misleading information policy’ states individuals must not use the platform to “share false or misleading information about COVID-19 which may lead to harm”.
This includes tweets about the efficacy of face masks to reduce viral spread, information on the development and approval of vaccines, and speculation as to the capacity of the health system to cope with the crisis.
Personal accounts and satire are exempt, as are strong commentary and opinions, “provided these do not contain false or misleading assertions of fact”.
Twitter will remove offending tweets and apply a ‘strikes’ system.
For one strike, Twitter will take no account-level action.
Strikes two and three will result in a 12-hour account lock, while strike four means a 7-day account lock.
Five or more strikes will result in a permanent suspension from Twitter
Users will be able to appeal their lock or suspension if they believe it was done in error.
Twitter revealed last December that starting in early 2021, it would begin taking action on offending tweets.