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Coronavirus misinformation tackled by Twitter

Image credit: reuters

Twitter has said it will begin applying warning labels to tweets that contain false information about coronavirus.

Underneath any misleading or outright false tweets, the social network will insert a link taking users to either a Twitter-curated page or an external trusted source containing additional verified information about the claims being made.

Depending on the type of misleading information, Twitter may go one step further and apply warnings that will inform people that the information in the tweet conflicts with public health experts’ guidance before they view it.

The worst offenders will be removed from the platform altogether, Twitter’s global senior strategist Nick Pickles said in a blog post.

The labels will be available in roughly 40 languages and the warning may also be applied to past tweets.

The platform is also “using and improving on internal systems” to proactively monitor content related to the virus.

The systems help Twitter to detect the high-visibility content quickly and to ensure that it is not amplifying tweets with these warnings or labels.

Twitter will also prioritise the review and labelling of content that could lead to increased exposure or transmission.

“People don’t want us to play the role of deciding for them what’s true and what’s not true, but they do want people to play a much stronger role providing context,” Pickles said.

The fine line is similar to one taken by Facebook, which has said it does not want to be an “arbiter of the truth” but has arranged for third-party fact checkers to review falsehoods on its site.

In March, Facebook began providing unlimited free advertising for the World Health Organisation (WHO) and millions of dollars for other organisations to boost the visibility of reliable information about the virus.

Users who search for "coronavirus" on Facebook will also be shown an educational message directing them to the WHO or a local health authority for authoritative information on the progression of the outbreak.

Nevertheless, claims that 5G towers are responsible for the spread of the virus were propagated widely on Facebook, with the Government saying it should be held to account on the issue.

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