Twitter Expands Fight Against Coronavirus Vaccine Misinformation

Novel coronavirus. Image credit: CDCC

Platform increases use of warning labels on misleading Covid-19 vaccine posts, and introduces scaling “strike” system for repeat offenders

Twitter is to make life a bit more difficult for those users spreading Coronavirus falsehoods and other anti-vax material online.

The micro-blogging platform said it is expanding its efforts to tackle misinformation, as the world continues to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

To be fair Twitter has been battling misleading Coronavirus information for a while now. Last November it permanently suspended the account of the conspiracy theorist David Icke for misleading Coronavirus posts.


Expanded actions

That same month Twitter joined Facebook, Google and the UK government, to try and find new ways to combat Coronavirus misinformation.

Prior to that in April 2020 Twitter clamped down on reckless tweets after conspiracy theories alleged that 5G was the cause of Coronavirus.

Now in a blog post on Monday, Twitter announced its expanded use of warning labels on tweets that contain misleading details about coronavirus vaccines.

Twitter revealed that since in December in an effort to tackle Covid misinformation, it started providing more labels providing additional context to tweets with disputed information about the pandemic.

Strike system

In addition, Twitter is now starting a strike system.

“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,” it said.

Twitter said that it has removed more than 8,400 tweets and challenged 11.5 million accounts worldwide.

“We are also introducing a strike system that determines when further enforcement action is necessary,” it added. “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.”

It said that labels will first be applied by our team members when they determine content violates its policy.

And the strike policy will have a series of punishments for serial offenders, who persist in spreading false and misleading Coronavirus vaccine information.

  • 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

Twitter said that users can appeal if they believe their account was locked or suspended in error.

“As health authorities deepen their understanding of Covid-19 and vaccination programs around the world, we will continue to amplify the most current, up-to-date, and authoritative information,” said Twitter. “We are all in this together, and we will continue to update you on our progress as we strive to play our part to protect the public conversation at this critical time.”

The company is starting with English-language content and says it will work to expand to other languages and cultural contexts over time.