Twitter boosts drive against COVID-19 vaccine misinformation

The global effort on COVID-19 vaccine is underway. And Twitter wants to ramp up its efforts to stop the spread of misinformation against it.

The social network will add new labels for tweets with misleading materials. It also comes with rules to punish repeat offenders by suspending or banning permanently.

twitter covid-19 vaccine labels misinformation

The mockups show the new warning labels. These highlight tweets that the Twitter team has found to contain moot claims about the vaccine.

If you try to share the tweet with a possible false claim, Twitter will prompt you to find out more before sharing. If you tap the Find out more button, it will lead you to its COVID-19 Information Center.

“Labels will first be applied by our team members when they determine content violates our policy. Those assessments will be used to further inform our automated tools and to advance our proactive capacity to identify and label similar content across the service. Our goal is to eventually use both automated and human review to address content that violates our COVID-19 vaccine misinformation rules,” says Twitter.

The new labels are part of preexisting Twitter tags to stop misinformation, like Facebook

These friction points make users aware and to review what they share. It slows the spread of these claims.

Twitter has added prompts on article retweets. It prompts users to open and read full articles before sharing 40 percent of the time. 

The disruption can often prompt a different approach. But not always. So, Twitter is putting more effort to stop false claims.

The strike system

Twitter will also use a strike system to discourage repeat offenders.

“Through the use of the strike system, we hope to educate people on why certain content breaks our rules so they have the opportunity to further consider their behavior and their impact on the public conversation. Repeated violations of the COVID-19 policy are enforced against on the basis of the number of strikes an account has accrued for violations of the policy,” says Twitter.

The strike system has intensifying punishments for rule violators:

  • One strike: no account-level action
  • Two strikes: 12-hour account lock
  • Three strikes: 12-hour account lock
  • Four strikes: 7-day account lock
  • Five or more strikes: permanent suspension

Users have many chances to reconsider their behavior. They can also appeal their strikes and suspensions.

The approach may seem harsh in some areas. But Twitter plays a key role to connect people to information. So, it has a duty to ensure its users get accurate, reliable information, if possible.

Yet, that somehow touches the topic of free speech, especially if it regulates what people can and cannot say online.

COVID-19 is a special case, though. It has distressing impacts worldwide. And the case for vaccines nowadays is stronger than any counterargument.

The new Twitter labels and enforcement actions are in full effect.

Author: Francis Rey

Francis is a voracious reader and prolific writer. He has been writing about social media and technology for more than 10 years. During off hours, he relishes moments with his wife and daughter.

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