Twitter ups efforts to stop misinformation, labeling falsehoods related to COVID-19 vaccine

USA Today: Morgan Hines


Twitter is bolstering its efforts to point out misinformation on the platform, a long-standing problem across social media that has taken on new urgency amid last year's election and through the pandemic.


"Starting today, we will begin applying labels to Tweets that may contain misleading information about COVID-19 vaccines, in addition to our continued efforts to remove the most harmful COVID-19 misleading information from the service," Twitter said in a blog post Monday.


Since introducing COVID-19 guidance last spring and announcing it would remove harmful, misleading information about vaccines in December, Twitter has removed more than 8,400 tweets and "challenged" 11.5 million accounts across the globe.


At first, labels will be applied to tweets by Twitter's team when they determine that the content violates the company's policy. After a while, those assessments will be used to inform Twitter's automated tools to label similar content across the social media platform.


"Our goal is to eventually use both automated and human review to address content that violates our COVID-19 vaccine misinformation rules," Twitter said. "Machine-learning and automated language processing takes time to be effective."


Twitter will start by examining tweets written in English, first and then expand to other languages and cultural contexts as time progresses. Labels on tweets will appear in users' set display language – the labels may also link to public health information, curated content or Twitter Rules.


"Our goal with these product interventions is to provide people with additional context and authoritative information about COVID-19," Twitter said.


The company's announcement Monday was two pronged. In addition to labels, they also introduced a "strike system," which will help Twitter determine "when further enforcement action is necessary."

"We believe the strike system will help to educate the public on our policies and further reduce the spread of potentially harmful and misleading information on Twitter, particularly for repeated moderate and high-severity violations of our rules," Twitter said.


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