Twitter has ended the Covid-19 misinformation policy from November 23. The company introduced it in 2020 for suspending accounts that post false or misleading health-related information, including that of Covid-19. The policy was last updated in January 2021. The company said in a blog post, “Effective November 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the COVID-19 misleading information policy.”
Covid-19 misinformation policy
Under the policy, Twitter suspended accounts that posted false claims regarding Covid-19 vaccines such as statements about vaccines that invoked a deliberate conspiracy. False claims about the adverse impacts or effects of receiving vaccinations, and claims that Covid-19 is not real or not serious were also withheld.
Twitter also suspended accounts that posted false or misleading content regarding the nature of the virus such as how it spreads within communities, the efficacy and/or safety of preventive measures, and prevalence or risk of infection or death.
Twitter labelled accounts that posted misleading information regarding Covid-19 vaccines with a warning. It also introduced a five-strike system for suspending accounts posting false or misleading content regarding Covid-19. No action was taken against accounts that posted misinformation only once, however, repeated offenders were suspended for hours, days or indefinitely for posting misleading content repeatedly.
In December 2020, the social media platform said, “We may label or place a warning on Tweets that advance unsubstantiated rumors, disputed claims, as well as incomplete or out-of-context information about vaccines.”
In September, it suspended more than 11,000 accounts indulging in Covid-19 misinformation.
Amnesty to suspended accounts
Twitter’s new boss Elon Musk hinted he is planning to provide amnesty to the suspended accounts. Last week, he launched an amnesty poll on Twitter, asking the users if the social media platform offers a general amnesty to suspended accounts. In a tweet, he asked, “Should Twitter offer a general amnesty to suspended accounts, provided that they have not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam?”
Musk has also said the hate speech impressions on Twitter have declined by one-third from pre-spike levels.
Ever since he acquired the microblogging platform, Musk has been on a mission to make Twitter the most accurate source of information. He introduced a content moderation council and a new verification system. He also blamed a large coalition of political/social activist groups for breaking the deal for the moderation council.
To curtail the prevalence of fake accounts, Musk plans to introduce a new verification system this month. The Twitter Blue Tick subscription was slated to be rolled out in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK for $8 every month beginning November. Musk said the subscription cost will be utilised to ramp up the social media platform’s dampening revenue. Musk, for now, has put an indefinite hold on its launch, saying the pause will be in effect until there is high confidence in stopping impersonation.
These developments come amid mass resignations and layoffs at Twitter. Musk has told Twitter staff that going forward, the company will be revamped to Twitter 2.0, which would require long hours of working at high intensity. He also gave an ultimatum to the employees to either go ‘hardcore’ or go home with severance pay. Several disgruntled employees resigned after that. The company has already sacked 3,700 employees or 50% of its workforce.