Twitter to expand policy to combat ‘harmful,’ ‘misleading’ tweets about COVID-19 vaccines

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Twitter on Wednesday announced that they are expanding existing rules to combat misleading tweets about COVID-19 vaccines on the platform and will prioritize the “removal of the most harmful, misleading information” about the vaccines, Fox News has learned.

“As the world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for the global distribution of vaccines, people continue to turn to Twitter to discuss what’s happening and find the latest authoritative public health information,” Twitter said Wednesday.

“Starting next week, we will prioritize the removal of the most harmful misleading information, and during the coming weeks, begin to label Tweets that contain potentially misleading information about the vaccines,” Twitter said. “We are focused on mitigating misleading information that presents the biggest potential harm to people’s health and wellbeing.”

Twitter added that they have “an important role to play as a place for good faith public debate and discussion around these critical public health matters.”

Twitter’s announcement comes as healthcare works across the nation this week were the first to receive Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, after full approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over the weekend. 

Under the platform’s current policy, Twitter already requires the removal of tweets that include false or misleading information about the nature of the virus—such as how it spreads within communities—the “efficacy and/or safety of preventative measures, treatments, or other precautions to mitigate or treat the disease, official regulations, restrictions or exemptions pertaining to health advisories, and the prevalence or risk of infection or death.

But next week, Twitter will expand their existing policy and may require users to “remove Tweets which advance harmful false or misleading narratives about COVID-19 vaccinations.”

Twitter said tweets that include “false claims that suggest immunizations and vaccines are used to intentionally cause harm to or control populations, including statements about vaccines that invoke a deliberate conspiracy; false claims which have been widely debunked about the adverse impacts or effects of receiving vaccinations; or false claims that COVID-19 is not real or not serious, and therefore that vaccinations are unnecessary.”

Fox News has learned that Twitter, early next year, may label or place a warning on tweets that advance “unsubstantiated rumors, disputed claims, as well as an incomplete or out-of-context information about vaccines.”

Twitter told Fox News that they will begin enforcing the updated policy on Dec. 21 “using a combination of technology and human review,” and will continue expanding their actions in the weeks to follow.

“We will enforce this policy in close consultation with local, national and global public health authorities around the world, and will strive to be iterative and transparent in our approach,” Twitter said Wednesday, adding that they remain “focused on helping people find credible health information, verifying public health experts, and updating our policies in an iterative and transparent approach.”

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