Twitter announces a new Policy on Handling Misinformation in Times of Crisis, setting new standards for dealing with Tweets containing false or misleading statements. The social network feels it has a responsibility to provide people in need with reliable information.
Twitter wants to become reliable
In times of crisis, access to credible and reliable information is particularly important, according to Yoel Roth, Twitter's Head of Safety and Integrity, in a blog post. Twitter has “expanded the range of actions it can take to ensure they are proportionate to the seriousness of the potential harm,” he said. According to the company, the priority is to provide users with access to credible information in times of crisis and at least to slow down the spread of false or misleading news. Human rights organizations were also involved in the development of the measures.
Affected tweets are only hidden
The new policy pays particular attention to false reporting of crisis events, false claims about weapons or the use of force, or misinformation about human rights violations or international sanctions. For this purpose, suspicious tweets are to be examined for their truthfulness using various publicly available sources.
Teams at Twitter have worked to develop a crisis misinformation framework since last year, drawing on key input from global experts and human rights organizations. […]
To determine whether claims are misleading, we require verification from multiple credible, publicly available sources, including evidence from conflict monitoring groups, humanitarian organizations, open-source investigators, journalists, and more.
Yoel Roth, Head of Safety & Integrity at Twitter
Tweets that are classified as misinformation should not necessarily be deleted or blocked. Instead, Twitter is adding a warning that prompts users to click a button before the tweet can be viewed, similar to the existing explicit or adult content flags. In addition, affected tweets are also ignored by the recommendation algorithm.
However, the stricter standards should only apply to a manually selected context. Twitter initially wants to apply the policy to content related to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, the company plans to apply the rules to other crises or similar events in the future. Crises are defined as “situations in which there is a far-reaching threat to life, physical security, health or livelihoods”. >Elon Musk's vision is potentially different
The directive comes at a sensitive time as the company's sale to Elon Musk is once again in limbo. Musk announced that after his takeover he would reduce moderation on the social network in favor of maximum freedom of expression. That doesn't necessarily mean that the floodgates are open to misinformation, but the handling of such content should still be less restrictive than announced.