Twitter bans misinforming COVID-19 tweets, Facebook puts corona info on top

San Francisco: Twitter on Thursday said it has expanded its safety rules on fake and mischievous coronavirus content that could place people at a higher risk of transmitting COVID-19.

Twitter will require people to remove tweets that include content that increases the chance that someone contracts or transmits the virus.

“It includes denial of expert guidance, encouragement to use fake or ineffective treatments, preventions, and diagnostic techniques and misleading content purporting to be from experts or authorities,” the micro-blogging platform said in a statement.

Vijaya Gadde, global lead for legal, policy, and trust and safety at Twitter said the company is increasing its use of machine learning and automation to take a wide range of actions on potentially abusive and manipulative content.

Also Read: Google Removing Fake Coronavirus-Related Videos From YouTube

Twitter will take action on tweets “denying global or local health authority recommendations to decrease someone’s likelihood of exposure to COVID-19 with the intent to influence people into acting against recommended guidance, such as: “social distancing is not effective.”

“It includes Description of treatments or protective measures which are not immediately harmful but are known to be ineffective, are not applicable to the COVID-19 context, or are being shared with the intent to mislead others.”

It will look into tweets that deny “established scientific facts about transmission during the incubation period or transmission guidance from global and local health authorities, such as COVID-19 does not infect children because we haven’t seen any cases of children being sick,” said Gadde.

Twitter will purge tweets with “specific and unverified claims that incite people to action and cause widespread panic, social unrest or large-scale disorder”.

Propagating false or misleading information around COVID-19 diagnostic criteria or procedures such as “if you can hold your breath for 10 seconds, you do not have coronavirus,” will also be removed from the platform.

Claims that specific groups, nationalities are never susceptible to COVID-19, such as “people with dark skin are immune to COVID-19 due to melanin production” or “reading the Quran will make an individual immune to COVID-19” will also be purged, said Twitter.

Earlier, Youtube had announced that it had taken down thousands of videos related to dangerous or misleading coronavirus information using its Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based technology.

In a blog post, Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that since January, Google has blocked hundreds of thousands of ads attempting to capitalize on the coronavirus pandemic. “Last week, we announced a temporary ban on all ads for medical masks and respirators,” he said on Monday.

“We continue to remove videos that promote medically unproven methods to prevent coronavirus in place of seeking medical treatment. On Google Maps, our automated and manual review systems continue to take down false and harmful content such as fake reviews and misleading information about healthcare locations,” Pichai elaborated.

Facebook to put corona info on top of users’ News Feed

Meanwhile, Facebook has said that it will put vetted information about novel coronavirus at the top of users’ New Feed to tackle the spread of fake health information.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that a collection of information from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will begin appearing on top of the feed in the coming days, reports TechCrunch.

“We’re going to be putting it at the top of everyone’s Facebook feed,” Zuckerberg said in a press call on Wednesday.

Facebook will also roll out its own coronavirus information hub on the social network. The information hub would be up in “a number” of US locations and some in Europe in the next 24 hours, with a more global rollout later.

“Were designing it to be very adaptive on a day to day basis,” said Zuckerberg.

Facebook also announced it would make its enterprise connectivity platform ‘Workplace’ free for the government and for emergency services.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp on Wednesday launched a Coronavirus Information Hub and announced a $1 million donation to the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN).

Launched in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and UNDP, the WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub is designed to provide simple, actionable guidance for health workers, educators, community leaders, nonprofits, local governments and local businesses that rely on WhatsApp to communicate.

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It will also offer general tips and resources for users around the world to reduce the spread of rumours.

The $1 million grant to the IFCN will support fact-checking for the #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance, which spans more than 100 local organisations in at least 45 countries.

(IANS)