Twitter to label tweets containing harmful, misleading content on COVID-19

PTI, May 12, 2020, 8:10 AM IST

New Delhi: Twitter on Monday said it will label tweets that contain “potentially harmful, misleading information” related to COVID-19, and provide additional context to curb the spread of fake news around the pandemic that has claimed thousands of lives globally.

Like other digital platforms, including Google and Facebook, Twitter is also undertaking these measures to ensure that people have access to information from trusted health experts and organizations like World Health Organization at a time when nations across the world are combating the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this year, Twitter had introduced a new label for tweets containing synthetic and manipulated media that aims to mislead people and had said it would take steps including removal of tweets if such content has the potential to harm public safety.

The crackdown on such content comes amid widespread concerns globally over altered, forged content on social media, including deep-fake videos, and its catastrophic implications.

Twitter, in a blog post on Monday, said, “In serving the public conversation, our goal is to make it easy to find credible information on Twitter and to limit the spread of potentially harmful and misleading content”.

“Starting today, we’re introducing new labels and warning messages that will provide additional context and information on some tweets containing disputed or misleading information related to COVID-19,” it said, adding that this will also apply to tweets sent before May 11.

Twitter said that it will take action based on three broad categories — misleading information, disputed claims, and unverified claims.

Tweets containing misleading information will either be removed or contain a label with links to trusted information sources, depending on the propensity for harm.

Tweets featuring disputed claims will either carry a label or warning depending on the severity of content. No action will be taken for tweets containing unverified claims, Twitter said.

The company said these labels will link to a Twitter-curated page or external trusted source containing additional information on the claims made within the tweet.

These warnings, it said, will inform people that the information in the tweet is in contradiction to public health experts’ guidance before a user views the content.

“However, embedded tweets and tweets viewed by people not logged into Twitter may still appear without a label,” the company said.

“Our teams are using and improving on internal systems to proactively monitor content related to COVID-19. These systems help ensure we’re not amplifying tweets with these warnings or labels and detecting the high-visibility content quickly,” Twitter said.

It added that the microblogging platform will also continue to rely on partners to identify content that is likely to result in offline harm.

“Given the dynamic situation, we will prioritize review and labeling of content that could lead to increased exposure or transmission. We’ll learn a lot as we use these new labels, and are open to adjusting as we explore labeling different types of misleading information,” it noted.

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