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Twitter will remove unverified COVID-19 tweets that could lead to ‘damage of critical infrastructure’

Courtesy: Twitter

Twitter will remove unverified claims related to COVID-19 that have the “potential to incite people to action”, could lead to the “destruction or damage of critical infrastructure”, or cause “widespread panic/social unrest”, the company said on April 22. With this update, Twitter is presumably looking to address content linking the coronavirus infection to 5G waves and calling for destruction of 5G towers. Such content had become viral on social media platforms earlier this month, and people had also damaged 5G infrastructure in some countries (more on that below). It is not clear whether this policy would apply to violative tweets made before April 22, we’ve asked Twitter about it.

Social media was rife with content linking coronavirus to 5G: This update comes after people in certain European countries damaged 5G infrastructure following social media calls claiming that they cause the coronavirus infection. Numerous 5G masts in the UK were set on fire earlier this month. A video of one of the masts on fire was circulating online, and claimed a link between 5G networks and coronavirus. Facebook has already started removing content linking coronavirus to 5G from earlier this month, and YouTube said it will reduce the number of recommendations for such videos.

Twitter won’t take action on every tweet: On April 1, the platform had broadened its definition of harm to address COVID-19 related content that goes “directly against guidance from authoritative sources of global and local public health information”. However, Twitter had also said that it would “not be able to take enforcement action on every Tweet that contains incomplete or disputed information about COVID-19”.

Twitter revealed that since March 18, it has removed over 2,230 tweets containing misleading and potentially harmful content. Its automated systems have “challenged more than 3.4 million accounts targeting manipulative discussions around COVID-19″.

In March, the platform had said that it would require users to remove content that could place people at a higher risk of transmitting COVID-19, including denial of expert guidance, and misleading content purporting to be from experts or authorities, among others.

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