Starting next week, Twitter will begin removing tweets that make false or misleading claims about COVID-19 vaccines. Posts that suggest vaccines can harm or control people, that make false claims about their adverse side-effects or that suggest COVID-19 isn’t real and therefore isn’t something you should get vaccinated against, will all be subject to the company’s expanded coronavirus misinformation policy. It says it will enforce the policy in close collaboration with local, national and global public health authorities around the world.
Then, moving forward into 2021, Twitter may additionally label tweets that advance conspiracy theories and other unsubstantiated and disputed claims about vaccines. Messages that the company labels in this fashion may link out to information from authoritative public health authorities. The approach mirrors the one the company took during the recent US presidential election when it came to election-related misinformation.
“In the context of a global pandemic, vaccine misinformation presents a significant and growing public health challenge — and we all have a role to play,” the company said. “We are focused on mitigating misleading information that presents the biggest potential harm to people's health and wellbeing.”
As mentioned above, today’s policy builds on rules Twitter first announced in March. At the time, the company added a COVID-19 hub to its Explore Tab that features information from public health authorities like the World Health Organization. In May, it then started labeling tweets with misleading information on the pandemic. However, not all of the company’s policies have been successful, with conspiracy theories from the likes of QAnon managing to find their way onto the platform and other social media websites.