Twitter is no longer enforcing its COVID-19 misinformation policy and is scrapping it less than a month after Space Karen Elon Musk took over the company. I’m shocked. This is my shocked face.
“As the global community collectively navigates the COVID-19 pandemic, Twitter is helping people find reliable information, connect with others, and see what’s happening in real time,” Twitter’s Transparency Center still says. While that phrase still stands, it is now immediately followed by a new notice: “Effective November 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the COVID-19 Misleading Information Policy.”
That policy has also disappeared from Twitter’s Help Center, summarily scrapping important safeguards that the platform has gradually developed over literal years.
Mashable reached out to Twitter for comment, which is just a formality at this point considering Musk fired pretty much anyone who might have responded.
Elon Musk says Twitter will grant “amnesty” for suspended accounts starting next week
COVID-19 misinformation has been a pervasive and dangerous problem throughout the pandemic that many social media platforms have struggled to deal with. As such, Twitter attempted to address the issue by making several updates to its policies, including expanding its safety rules to ban tweets that could put people at higher risk of transmitting the coronavirus. Such tweets have included soliciting fake treatments, disseminating misleading content claiming it came from authorities, or refusing expert advice.
Twitter attached warning labels to tweets that went against the advice of public health experts. It has updated its policy to specifically address unsubstantiated conspiracy theories that falsely promote a link between 5G technology and COVID-19. It also began banning users for repeatedly posting misinformation about COVID-19.
Now all of those safety measures are no longer in effect, meaning Twitter users are reportedly free to advise others to cure themselves of COVID-19 by injecting themselves with bleach. (Very important side note: Do not do that.) Musk has also said that Twitter will reinstate any suspended accounts that haven’t broken the law or been involved in egregious spam, meaning Twitter could soon be hosting countless more spreaders of COVID-19 misinformation.
Unfortunately, the rapid destruction of Twitter’s coronavirus safeguards is not surprising. Musk himself has been known for posting tweets flirting with Twitter’s COVID-19 misinformation policy, and writes that it does “Maybe worth considering chloroquine for C19” and the “Hydroxychloroquine [is] probably better.” None of these drugs are recommended by health experts for treating COVID-19, with studies concluding that they are ineffective.
Despite this, Twitter determined that Musk’s tweets somehow didn’t violate its policies, and allowed Elon “the coronavirus panic is stupid” Musk to continue sharing his galactic coronavirus thoughts with millions of followers.
Clearly, Twitter’s misinformation policy on COVID-19 wasn’t perfect. But with absolutely nothing now in place, the microblogging platform is now in a prime position to plummet to previously uncharted depths.