Twitter Warns of ‘Some Mistakes’ in Crackdown on COVID-19 Tweets

March 19th, 2020 1:06 PM

Big Tech is undergoing radical reforms amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and Twitter is letting users know that as bot programs temporarily replace human workers, their platform is in for a bumpy ride.

Twitter announced that “we’re expanding our safety rules to include content that could place people at a higher risk of transmitting COVID-19” on March 18. The platform said that it would restrict content that “increases the chance that someone contracts or transmits the virus,” including: “Denial of expert guidance[,] “Encouragement to use fake or ineffective treatments, preventions, and diagnostic techniques[and] “Misleading content purporting to be from experts or authorities.”

This warning began as part of a larger thread which started two days before: “As the world faces an unprecedented public health emergency, we want to be open about the steps we’re taking to keep people safe.” Twitter, as a company, will be encouraging “social distancing and working from home” among its employees as the platform starts to “rely more on automated systems to help enforce [its] rules.”

The ways this will impact users includes how Twitter is “working to improve our tech so it can make more enforcement calls,” which “might result in some mistakes.” The platform also says that its employees are “meeting daily to see what changes we need to make” and “staying engaged with partners around the world.”

TechCrunch’s coverage observed that “Under the ruleset, a tweet that claims ‘social distancing is not effective’ would be subject to removal.” In addition, the outlet noted that “Twitter will also require users to delete tweets telling followers to do ineffective or dangerous things like drinking bleach, even if the tweet is ‘made in jest’ because that content can prove harmful when taken out of context.”

Twitter has struggled with selective enforcement of rules in recent weeks. On one hand, it censored ZeroHedge’s account for allegedly violating Twitter’s platform manipulation policy by theorizing on the Wuhan virus’s origins. The initial ZeroHedge article suggested that the mainstream narrative about coronavirus being spread thanks to some bat soup was a “fabricated farce.”

On the other hand, Twitter allowed Spokesperson & Deputy Director General, Information Department, Foreign Ministry of China Lijian Zhao to question whether America was responsible for the spread of the Wuhan virus.

U.S. Congressman Jim Banks (R-IN) roasted Zhao for being the Chinese regime’s PR puppet:

“I've been blocked by @zlj517, a #CCP foreign minister in China's Dept of ‘Information’ who claims that the #Wuhan coronavirus originated in the US… China's ‘information’ official tells blatant lies, gets questioned, then immediately reverts to censorship. Too perfect!”