Twitter has announced a content moderation policy change at a time when this is a very sensitive subject for the platform, in light of Elon Musk’s free speech stance.
Although Elon Musk and his $44 billion takeover attempt, currently on hold due to a disagreement over the number of fake accounts which could lead to a legal battle, Musk has made clear his desire free speech on the platform, and has even said he will reserve the ban on Donald Trump.
This makes Twitter’s decision to change its crisis misinformation policy noteworthy, and is sure to scrutinised by many observers and interested parties.
The new policy for dealing with misinformation during a period of crisis, was revealed in a blog post by Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of safety and integrity, on Thursday.
It seeks to establish new standards for gating or blocking the promotion of certain tweets if they are seen as spreading misinformation.
“During periods of crisis – such as situations of armed conflict, public health emergencies, and large-scale natural disasters – access to credible, authoritative information and resources is all the more critical,” noted Twitter’s Roth.
“Today, we’re introducing our crisis misinformation policy – a global policy that will guide our efforts to elevate credible, authoritative information, and will help to ensure viral misinformation isn’t amplified or recommended by us during crises,” he wrote.
He noted that teams at Twitter have worked to develop a crisis misinformation framework since last year, and has gathered input from global experts and human rights organisations on the matter.
Twitter defines a crisis as situations where there is a widespread threat to life, physical safety, health, or basic subsistence.
Twitter will initially apply the policy to content concerning the illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine, but the company expects to apply the rules to all emerging crises going forward.
“During moments of crisis, establishing whether something is true or false can be exceptionally challenging,” wrote Roth. “To determine whether claims are misleading, we require verification from multiple credible, publicly available sources, including evidence from conflict monitoring groups, humanitarian organisations, open-source investigators, journalists, and more.”
Donald Trump was noted for tweeting factually incorrect information during his time on Twitter, but this was mostly not during life threatening crisis, other than the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite that Twitter applied ‘fact-checking alerts’ on his tweets on multiple occasions.
Twitter’s Roth said that in order to reduce potential harm, as soon as it has evidence that a claim may be misleading, the platform won’t amplify or recommend content.
In addition, it will prioritise adding warning notices to highly visible Tweets and Tweets from high profile accounts, such as state-affiliated media accounts, verified, official government accounts.
Some examples of Tweets that we may add a warning notice to include:
People on Twitter will be required to click through the warning notice to view the Tweet, and the content won’t be amplified or recommended across the service
In addition, Likes, Retweets, and Shares will be disabled.
“Content moderation is more than just leaving up or taking down content, and we’ve expanded the range of actions we may take to ensure they’re proportionate to the severity of the potential harm,” noted Roth.
“We’ve found that not amplifying or recommending certain content, adding context through labels, and in severe cases, disabling engagement with the Tweets, are effective ways to mitigate harm, while still preserving speech and records of critical global events,” he wrote.
US FCC regulator gives its official approval for SpaceX to use its Starlink satellite internet…
Privacy quest. Google is a repeat offender, says BEUC, as ten European consumer groups file…