Twitter users will be required to remove tweets that could fuel the spread of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) through misinformation on its social network.
Tweets that go against the local and global health guidelines will be barred in a new move that has already been effected.
Tweets that encourage false treatment, harmful and ineffective alternatives will also be barred. Some of the examples provided by Twitter are those including statements such as ‘social distancing is not effective’ and ‘if you can hold your breath for 10 seconds, you do not have Coronavirus’.
The social media network in its crackdown also seeks to dispel rumours that certain nationalities such as Asians and some groups are more vulnerable to COVID-19, the respiratory Disease caused by Coronavirus.
“As the world faces an unprecedented public health emergency, we want to be open about the steps we’re taking to keep people safe. To support social distancing and working from home, we need to work differently and rely more on automated systems to help enforce our rules,” said the Twitter management.
In a different tweet, Twitter clarified the kind of misleading information users should avoid
“Content that increases the chance that someone contracts or transmits the virus, including:
– Denial of expert guidance
– Encouragement to use fake or ineffective treatments, preventions, and diagnostic techniques
– Misleading content purporting to be from experts or authorities” tweeted Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety).
Twitter has addressed the issue of misinformation in the past but intimated that in this case, there was a need to broad and clarify its definition of what is harmful.
Facebook said they would create an online hub to disseminate correct information on Coronavirus from legitimate sources.
The New York Times this month reported that several videos, photos and information about coronavirus had leaked to the social media. This begs the question of how effective the crackdown on misinformation is.
Twitter flags content using automated tools and as such did not provide a specific number of the tweets removed so far.