Twitter will begin the removal of harmful and misleading information around the COVID-19 vaccine and label Tweets that “potentially” contain false or inaccurate information.
As countries around the world reach the final stages of COVID-19 vaccine development and distribution, social media platforms strengthen efforts for tackling misinformation and conspiracy theories around the sensitive subject, Twitter being the latest in this course of action.
Vaccine misinformation and conspiracy theories have been existing long before the COVID-19 global pandemic, and have continued to persist. Psychological factors and the skeptical mind frame of citizens, that the misinformation feeds off, are turning out to be a bigger challenge in vaccination programs.
Social media platforms have always been vulnerable to the unrestrained spread of misinformation. Consequently, social media platforms have been prioritizing the subject that may hinder the actions towards ending this global pandemic.
Twitter has made additions to its policy that leads to the removal of a Tweet. Previously, the removal of a Tweet would be the action taken if the Tweet includes false or misleading information about:
- The nature of the virus, such as how it spreads within communities
- The efficacy and/or safety of preventative measures, treatments, or other precautions to mitigate or treat the disease
- Official regulations, restrictions, or exemptions pertaining to health advisories
- The prevalence or risk of infection or death
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Going forward Tweets can be removed if they contain misleading narratives about COVID-19 vaccinations, including:
- False claims that suggest immunizations and vaccines are used to intentionally cause harm to or control populations, including statements about vaccines that invoke a deliberate conspiracy
- False claims which have been widely debunked about the adverse impacts or effects of receiving vaccinations
- False claims that COVID-19 is not real or not serious, and therefore that vaccinations are unnecessary
Twitter will start labelling and post warnings on Tweets that advance unsubstantiated rumors, disputed claims, as well as incomplete or out-of-context information about vaccines.
Tweets with labels or warnings may also link to authoritative public health information to give information from an official source, or the Twitter Rules that provide additional context and authoritative information about COVID-19.
Twitter will begin enforcing this updated policy on December 21, using a combination of technology and human review. The platform mentions teh policy will be enforced in close consultation with local, national and global public health authorities around the world.