Twitter is no longer enforcing its COVID-19 misinformation policy and is shelving it less than a month after Space Karen Elon Musk bought the company. I was shocked. This is my shocked face.
“As the global community faces the COVID-19 pandemic, Twitter is helping people find reliable information, connect with others and follow what’s going on in real time.” Twitter’s Transparency Center still states. While that sentence still applies, a new note follows immediately: “As of November 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing its COVID-19 misleading information policy.”
Said policy has also been removed from Twitter’s Help Center, vaguely putting aside important protections that the platform has gradually developed over the real years.
Mashable took to Twitter for comment, which was just a formality at this point, given that Musk had fired almost everyone who might have responded.
Elon Musk says Twitter will grant ‘amnesty’ to suspended accounts from next week
COVID-19 misinformation has been a pervasive and dangerous problem throughout the pandemic, and many social media platforms are struggling to manage it. That’s why Twitter tried to fix the problem by making various updates to its policies and expanded its security rules to ban tweets that could put people at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus. Such tweets have included promoting fraudulent treatment, spreading misleading content claiming to come from authorities, or refusing expert guidance.
Twitter has added warning tags to tweets that go against the advice of public health experts. It has updated its policy to specifically address unsubstantiated conspiracy theories that falsely link 5G technology to COVID-19. It has also started banning users who consistently post false information about COVID-19.
All of these security measures are no longer in place, meaning Twitter users are free to ostensibly advise others to heal themselves from COVID-19 by injecting bleach. (Very important side note: Do not do this.) Musk also said that Twitter will reinstate all suspended accounts that don’t break the law or excessively spam, meaning Twitter could soon be home to numerous COVID-19 misinformation spreaders.
It’s not surprising, unfortunately, that Twitter’s coronavirus security measures are quickly falling apart. Musk himself has been known to post tweets that flirt with Twitter’s COVID-19 misinformation policy. “Maybe chloroquine for C19 is worth considering” and that “Hydroxychloroquine [is] probably better.” None of these drugs are recommended by healthcare professionals to treat COVID-19, and research concludes that they are ineffective.
Despite this, Twitter determined that Musk’s tweets somehow did not violate its policy, allowing Elon to continue to share his galaxy-brained coronavirus thoughts with millions of followers.
Frankly, Twitter’s COVID-19 misinformation policy wasn’t perfect. But with absolutely nothing in place right now, the microblogging platform is now in a prime position to dive into previously unexplored depths.