Twitter bans misleading coronavirus tweets but immediately fails to enforce new rules

  • Social media giant Twitter has announced that it will remove misinformation about the coronavirus outbreak, but has come under fire for failing to enforce the new rules.

    As the COVID-19 virus spreads around the world, so too has a wave of misinformation, counter-productive advice, and outright conspiracy theory nonsense. Some social media posts making the rounds this week have offered false medical advice on treating or preventing the condition that actually offer no protective benefit.

    Other posts spreading through social media include influential people denying the advice by their local or government health authority, such as those claiming that the virus is a hoax or saying that the virus doesn't infect children. These types of misinformation mislead people about their level of safety and what they need to do to protect themselves, which could lead them to put themselves at risk.

    Companies are even trying to profiteer off the disaster, with online retailers selling stockpiled supplies of things such as hand sanitiser and surgical masks at massively inflated prices. Some are using the opportunity to sell fake cures and homeopathic products that don't do anything at all, or as a promotional gimmick.

    Twitter announced that it will be including things such as these in its definition of "harm" when determining if a tweet biolates its terms of service. The company has already come udner fire, however, for immediately failing to enforce these new rules with SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

    Musk posted on twitter yesterday that "Kids are essentially immune" to the virus, implying that children can't be infected by the virus. Despite this being one of Twitter's own examples of harm that it would be removing, it ruled that the tweet did not breach its terms of service.

    Source: BBC News, BBC News, Twitter

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    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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