Twitter is stepping up its fight against misinformation with a new policy against messages that spread false stories that can be dangerous. Change is part of a broader effort to promote accurate information in times of conflict or crisis.
As of Thursday, the platform will not automatically recommend or highlight messages that make misleading claims about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, including material that misidentifies conflict conditions or makes false allegations of civil war crimes or atrocities against civilians.
Under the new “crisis misinformation policy,” Twitter will also add warning tags to claims about the ongoing humanitarian crisis, the San Francisco-based company said. Users will not be able to like, forward or respond to posts that violate the new rules.
The changes make Twitter the latest social platform to deal with the misinformation, propaganda and rumors that have spread since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. This misinformation ranges from rumors spread by well-meaning users to fake Kremlin propaganda or fake Russian-related accounts and networks spread by Russian diplomats.
“We’ve seen both sides share information that could be misleading and / or misleading,” said Yoel Roth, head of security and integrity at Twitter, who outlined a new policy for journalists. “Our policy does not discriminate between different fighters. Instead, we are focusing on misinformation that can be dangerous, no matter where it comes from.”
The new policy will include digitally manipulated media, false election and voting claims, and Twitter rules banning misinformation about health, including denounced claims against COVID-19 and vaccines.
But it could also clash with the views of Tesla billionaire Elon Musk, who has agreed to pay $ 44 billion for Twitter to become a haven for free speech. Musk has not addressed many cases of what this means in practice, although he said Twitter should only remove messages that violate the law, literally taking action against most misinformation, personal attacks and harassment. He has also criticized the algorithms used by Twitter and other social platforms to recommend certain messages to individuals.
The policy was widely written to cover up misinformation in other conflicts, such as natural disasters, humanitarian crises, or “any situation that poses a serious threat to health and safety,” Roth said.
Twitter said it will rely on several credible sources to determine when a post is misleading. These sources will include humanitarian teams, conflict monitors and journalists.
Victor Zhora, a senior Ukrainian cybersecurity official, welcomed Twitter’s new policy of screening and said it was up to the global community to “find the right approaches to prevent the sowing of misinformation on social media.”
While the results have been mixed, Twitter’s efforts to deal with misinformation about the Ukraine conflict outweigh other platforms that have chosen an outward-looking approach, such as Telegram, which is well-known in Eastern Europe.
Asked specifically about the Telegram platform, where there is a lot of misinformation from the Russian government but Ukrainian leaders also reach out to a wide audience, Zhora said the question is “difficult but very important.” That is the kind of misinformation that spread through the Telegram without limits “partly because it led to this war.”
Since the Russian invasion began in February, social media platforms like Twitter and Meta, the owners of Facebook and Instagram, have been trying to counter the rise of war-related misinformation by labeling Russian state-controlled media and diplomatic posts. Some materials have also been underestimated so that they do not appear in automatic searches or recommendations.
Emerson Brooking, a senior member of Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab and an expert on social media and misinformation, said the conflict in Ukraine shows how easily misinformation can be spread online and the need for platforms to respond.
“This is a conflict that has taken place on the Internet, and has led to tremendous changes in technology policy,” he said.
Twitter’s policy aims to clean up war misinformation
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