Twitter is to censor content relating to Covid-19 with warning labels if it does not comply with the guidance of ‘public health experts’, in a move sure to be seen as the latest by big tech to suppress information on the global pandemic.
The company says the warnings will extend to anything deemed to be out of step with the advice of health authorities. The move is to provide users with “additional context,” according to Public Policy Director Nick Pickles.
Launching 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. https://t.co/R4If7wTUF2
— Nick Pickles (@nickpickles) May 11, 2020
The warning messages will conceal the tweet from view (censor it) unless the user clicks through to it.
“These warnings will inform people that the information in the Tweet conflicts with public health experts’ guidance before they view it,” the company said in a blog post.
Tweets targeted by the warnings will include merely casting doubt on the need to practice social distancing or wear a mask, according to reports.
The company says it has a tiered system in place to determine how ‘severe’ the ‘conspiracy theory’ is.
Twitter told PC mag that “For example, a tweet that says ‘wearing a mask will get you sick’ could easily be adopted, and put people at risk. A tweet that says ‘COVID came from a lab in China,’ on the other hand, poses no immediate risk to causing harm.”
Coronavirus misinformation found to be “moderately” harmful, will carry a label under the content that says “Get the facts about COVID-19”, and will provide a link to a “Twitter-curated page or external trusted source.”
In order to identify offending tweets, Twitter says it will “rely on trusted partners to identify content that is likely to result in offline harm.”
Twitter is once again following in lockstep with Google, and Facebook, in removing content they deem to be untrustworthy.
Several videos have been banned by YouTube and Facebook in recent days and weeks, including doctors speaking out against the lockdown and measures used to combat the virus.
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