Another day, another bit of worrying news from Twitter. It turns out that the social media platform has quietly abandoned enforcement of its COVID misinformation rules.
According to the now-defunct policy, Twitter would remove tweets that included harmful and fake information about the virus that killed millions worldwide, including those who “did their own research.”
“As the global community faces the COVID-19 pandemic together, Twitter is helping people find reliable information, connect with others, and follow what’s happening in real time,” Twitter says in a blog page dedicated to information about the coronavirus.
Yet, on that same page, a new line has been added recently. “Effective November 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the COVID-19 misleading information policy,” it says.
Additionally, the COVID policy is no longer listed on Twitter’s “How we address misinformation” explainer, and the URL for the misinformation policy now redirects to Twitter’s Help Center.
This means that Twitter is no longer removing posts that are blatantly false and likely to cause harm, such as sharing wrong information about how the virus is spreading and where it originated.
Sure, the pandemic is not what it used to be during the deadliest months – but it’s certainly not over. Mark Schlesinger, professor of health policy and a fellow of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale University, explained this week that around 500 people are still dying from COVID-19 each day in the United States alone.
Twitter first defined its COVID misinformation policy in April 2020, soon after the World Health Organization declared the spread of the coronavirus a pandemic, and regularly updated it.
One of the most important aspects of the policy included a general rule that Twitter would remove posts engaged in harmful misinformation. If an account repeatedly shared false information, it could have been suspended.
Enter Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter. The signs were actually there when early in the pandemic, Musk said that worrying about the virus was “dumb,” and he also suggested that children could not get the virus (they can).
And on the same day, Twitter stopped enforcing its COVID misinformation policy. Musk posted a poll asking his followers if the platform should offer “general amnesty to suspended accounts” under certain conditions, such as for those who did not break the law or engage in excessive spam.
After more than 70% supported the move, the billionaire announced that “amnesty begins next week.”
According to Twitter, 11,230 accounts had been suspended for violating the rules against COVID misinformation. Nearly 12 million accounts were challenged under the policy, and 97,674 pieces of content worldwide were removed as of September 2022.
More from Cybernews:
Subscribe to our newsletter