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Twitter stops enforcing coronavirus misinformation policies

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Twitter will no longer take action against accounts that post misleading information about covid or tweets containing false information about covid. A note reading “Effective November 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the COVID-19 misleading information policy” was quietly added to the platform’s pages outlining its covid misinformation policies rather than a public announcement.

In 2020, Twitter first implemented these policies by labelling tweets that contained contentious claims about covid and its vaccines. Tweets containing “demonstrably false or potentially misleading content” were deleted, and repeat offenders’ accounts were locked out for good. Since January 2020, Twitter has removed nearly 100,000 pieces of content and suspended 11,230 accounts, as shown by publicly available data from the company.

Twitter owner Elon Musk polled users last week on whether or not to offer “general amnesty” to suspended accounts that “have not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam.” After a yes vote from the majority of users, Musk has said he will begin restoring suspended accounts this week.

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According to a report by Platformer’s Casey Newton and Zo Schiffer, Musk is currently working on restoring around 62,000 accounts with over 10,000 followers, including one account with over 5 million followers and 75 accounts with over 1 million followers each. It is currently unknown if Musk will reinstate the 11,230 accounts suspended for spreading covid misinformation.

Analysis shows that covid misinformation is one of the biggest challenges addressed by Community Notes users since Twitter made its community-driven moderation programme Birdwatch available to all users in October. Twitter notes “do not represent Twitter’s viewpoint and cannot be edited or modified,” so it seems likely that this won’t be affected by the policy change.

Meta has gone beyond Twitter to consult the Oversight Board to determine if it needs to modify its stance on covid misinformation. In July, the Oversight Board started looking into Meta’s procedures, and they still need to decide.

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