Twitter Inc. is expanding the use of its strike system to include users who spread misleading information about Covid-19 and its vaccines, the social-media platform’s latest attempt to curb the spread of potentially harmful content.
The new rules, disclosed Monday in a corporate blog post, are an update of plans the company rolled out last year to help tamp down coronavirus misinformation and amplify authoritative sources during the pandemic.
Twitter said it would begin applying labels to posts pertaining to vaccines that include conspiracy theories and rhetoric unfounded in research or credible reporting. Similar to the company’s election-integrity policy update in January, Twitter said it would permanently suspend users who violate its Covid-19 misinformation policy five times.
The first strike will result only in a warning, but subsequent strikes would result in accounts being locked either for 12 hours or seven days. Users can appeal locks or suspensions, the company said.
Twitter is the latest platform to crack down on vaccine misinformation. Facebook recently announced that it was banning misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines, as well as claims about other vaccines more broadly. TikTok and YouTube have also introduced policies to curb the spread of false claims about the vaccines.
Content that is demonstrably false or misleading and may lead to significant risk of harm (such as increased exposure to the virus, or adverse effects on public health systems) may not be shared on Twitter.
This includes sharing content that may mislead people about the nature of the COVID-19 virus; 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; or the prevalence of the virus or risk of infection or death associated with COVID-19. In addition, we may label Tweets which share misleading information about COVID-19 to reduce their spread and provide additional context.
What is in violation of this policy?
In order for content related to COVID-19 to be labeled or removed under this policy, it must:
• advance a claim of fact, expressed in definitive terms;
• be demonstrably false or misleading, based on widely available, authoritative sources; and