Covid-19 misinformation: Twitter to flag Coronavirus related fake news through warning labels

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Published: May 12, 2020 1:50 PM

Twitter has said it would not take action on tweets with unconfirmed facts, but could place alerts or labels on contested statements, as well as those verified to be false.

Twitter’s labels can lead to a page curated by Twitter or an external trusted source with additional details.

In an effort to counter the Covid-19 misinformation floating on the platform, Twitter will add labels and warning messages to some tweets that will have misleading COVID-19 information, the company has said on May 1. Twitter’s new labels will provide users with links to more information in cases where the risk of a tweet is not sufficiently severe to be removed but people may be confused or misled, the company has said in a blog post.

Twitter said those marks, which would look identical to those placed on fake and manipulated media flags, would also refer to tweets sent prior to Twitter’s announcement, and will be used regardless of who sent the message.

Social networking sites, including Facebook and YouTube, Alphabet ‘s Google video service, are under immense pressure to counter misinformation that has spread about the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the latest coronavirus on their platforms.

Such false claims ranged from fake remedies to disinformation that linked the virus to conspiracy theories about high-profile personalities like Microsoft’s co-founder turned philanthropist Bill Gates, or about 5 G mobile phone technologies. Twitter’s labels can lead to a page curated by Twitter or an external trusted source with additional details.

Twitter has said it would not take action on tweets with unconfirmed facts, but could place alerts or labels on contested statements, as well as those verified to be false.

Earlier in March, Twitter barred public health authorities from tweets that go against COVID-19 guidelines. In a call with reporters on Monday, Twitter’s site integrity head Yoel Roth said it will continue to prioritize removing tweets with a call for action that could potentially cause harm, such as asking people to stop social distancing. Roth said an example of tweets that the firm would now consider marking would be those disputing the virus’ origin or existence.

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