Twitter announces a new policy for handling misinformation in times of crisis and sets new standards for handling tweets containing false or misleading statements. The social network sees it as a responsibility to provide people in need with reliable information.
Twitter wants to be trustworthy
In times of crisis, access to credible and reliable information is especially important, said Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of security and integrity in one blog post. Twitter has “expanded the number of measures it can take to ensure they are commensurate with the severity of the potential damage,” he said. According to the company, the priority is to give users access to credible information in times of crisis and to at least slow the spread of false or misleading news. Human rights organizations are also involved in the elaboration of the measures.
Affected tweets are only hidden
The new policy pays particular attention to false reporting about crisis events, false claims about weapons or the use of force, or misinformation about human rights violations or international sanctions. For this, suspicious tweets must be examined for their truth using various publicly available sources.
Tweets classified as misinformation do not necessarily need to be deleted or blocked. Instead, Twitter will add a warning prompting users to click a button before the tweet can be viewed, similar to the existing flags for explicit or adult content. In addition, affected tweets are also ignored by the recommendation algorithm.
This is what tweets identified as false information should look like in the future (Image: Twitter) However, the stricter standards should only apply to a manually selected context. Twitter plans to initially apply the policy to content related to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. However, the company plans to apply the rules to other crises or similar events in the future. Crises are defined as “situations where there is a profound threat to life, physical safety, health or livelihood”.
Elon Musk’s vision may look different
The directive comes at a sensitive time as the company’s sale to Elon Musk is once again in limbo. Musk announced that after his acquisition, he would reduce moderation on the social network in favor of maximum freedom of expression. That doesn’t have to mean opening the floodgates to misinformation, but the handling of such content should still be less restrictive than now announced.
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