Twitter will soon begin adding labels and warning messages on some tweets with disputed or misleading information about COVID-19, the company said on Monday, as part of a new approach to misinformation that will eventually extend to other topics.
Twitter’s new labels will provide links to more information in cases where the risk of harm from the tweet is not severe enough to be removed, but people could be confused or misled, Twitter said in a blog post.
The company said that depending on the propensity for harm and type of misleading information in the tweet, warnings may also be added to say the tweet conflicts with guidance from public health experts before a user views it.
Twitter said these labels, which will look similar to ones launched to flag synthetic and manipulated media, will also apply to tweets that have been sent before Twitter’s announcement and will be used regardless of who sent the tweet.
An example image from Twitter shows how the company will add warnings to some tweets with misleading information related to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) [Twitter/Handout via Reuters]
Social media sites, including Facebook and YouTube, are under pressure to combat misinformation that has spread on their platforms about the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the new coronavirus.
Such false claims have ranged from bogus cures to misinformation linking the virus with conspiracy theories about high-profile figures such as Microsoft co-founder turned philanthropist Bill Gates or about 5G mobile phone technology.
Social media giant Facebook’s third-party fact-checking partners, which include Reuters, rate and debunk viral content on the site with labels and last month YouTube said it would also start showing information panels with third-party, fact-checked articles for US video search results.
Twitter’s labels will link to a Twitter-curated page or external trusted source containing additional information.
“One of the differences in our approach here is that we’re not waiting for a third party to have made a cast-iron decision one way or another,” said Twitter’s public policy director Nick Pickles.
“We’re reflecting the debate, rather than stating the outcome of a deliberation,” he added.
Twitter said it would not take action on tweets with information unconfirmed at the time of sharing, but it could place warnings or labels on disputed claims, as well as those confirmed as false.