Twitter to Take Down False Claims About Covid-19 Vaccines

It is the tech company’s latest effort to slow the spread of false claims related to the pandemic

By Georgia Wells | Wall Street Journal | Dec 16, 2020

Twitter Inc. TWTR +1.39% is planning to remove posts that contain what it deems harmful or misleading information about Covid-19 vaccines, in the tech company’s latest effort to slow the spread of false claims related to the pandemic.

Twitter’s expanded policy announced Wednesday about misinformation follows the rollout of the distribution of vaccines that could end the pandemic but that need critical adoption to be broadly effective.

Under the new rules, Twitter said it would remove tweets that suggest vaccines are used to cause harm to populations; false claims that have been widely debunked about the adverse impacts of receiving vaccines; and posts that suggest Covid-19 isn’t serious and therefore doesn’t warrant a vaccine.

“We are focused on mitigating misleading information that presents the biggest potential harm to people’s health and well being,” Twitter said in a statement on Wednesday. Twitter plans to begin enforcing the new rules Dec. 21.

A large chunk of people in the U.S. get their news from social media. According to research conducted by the Harris Poll, more than 40% of Americans trust the information about the Covid-19 vaccines that they see on social-media platforms, and nearly 70% of Americans believe social-media platforms should aggressively monitor information on their sites about Covid-19 vaccines and remove any information they consider misleading.

Facebook Inc. in early December said it would remove false claimsabout the Covid-19 vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts.

Twitter’s new policy expands on its previous rules that require the removal of tweets that include misleading information about how Covid-19 spreads within communities; false claims about the efficacy of preventive measures; misleading messages about official regulations pertaining to health advisories; and false statements about the prevalence or risk of infection or death.

Twitter said it would use a combination of technology and humans to review the tweets that may now qualify for takedown.

Twitter plans to expand its actions in coming weeks. Starting in early 2021, Twitter said it may label or place a warning on posts that push unsubstantiated rumors and disputed claims, as well as out-of-context information about vaccines.

Read the full story at the Wall Street Journal.