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Twitter to Ban Unverified Coronavirus Tweets in New Crackdown

Ross Kelly

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coronavirus

Twitter’s new rules follow a pledge made by Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Reddit earlier this week to combat coronavirus-related misinformation.

Twitter has confirmed it will begin removing posts that contain unverified or false information on coronavirus in a bid to combat misinformation and fake news. 

In light of the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the social media firm said that false or misleading tweets could prove dangerous to users, and as such, will be banned. In a statement online, Twitter said it plans to enforce the new rules “in close coordination with trusted partners”, which includes public health authorities and governments. 

“As the entire world faces an unprecedented public health emergency, we want to be open about the challenges we are facing and the contingency measures we’re putting in place to serve the public conversation at this critical time,” the post states.

“We are regularly working with and looking to trusted partners, including public health authorities, organisations, and governments to inform our approach.”

Under the new rules, tweets which could increase the risk of a user contracting the virus will be prohibited. This will extend to posts that actively encourage users not to take preventative measures, such as social distancing, as well as those that promote unverified treatments or ‘remedies’.

In particular, the new rules will see a ban on posts that claim certain ethnic groups or nationalities are more – or less – susceptible to COVID-19. Some posts circulated on social media have advised against interacting with Chinese people in fear of them having COVID-19. Similarly, false reports claiming that people with “dark skin” have immunity to the disease have also been shared.

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Given the ongoing developments with COVID-19, Twitter said it plans to review its practices on a daily basis, and users will be informed of any new rule changes as they occur.

“Our approach to protecting the public conversation is never static,” the firm said. “That’s particularly relevant in these unprecedented times. We intend to review our thinking daily and will ensure we’re sharing updates here on any new clarifications to our rules or major changes to how we’re enforcing them.

Twitter’s new rules follow a joint-announcement from a number of tech giants earlier this week. Facebook, Reddit, Microsoft and Google announced they would work closely with governments to combat the spread of misinformation.

“We’re helping millions of people stay connected while also jointly combating fraud and misinformation about the virus, elevating authoritative content on our platforms and sharing critical updates in coordination with government healthcare agencies around the world,” the joint statement said.

Ross Kelly

Staff Writer

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