Back in December last year, Twitter announced an update on how it would handle misleading tweets surrounding COVID-19 vaccines, outlining how misinformation surrounding certain aspects of vaccines and the vaccination process would be removed from the platform. Turns out that, since then, more than 8,400 tweets have been removed.
Now, it’s announced that it will also begin labelling any and all tweets spreading misinformation, and will also be implementing a strike based system with varying penalties for repeat offences.
Twitter’s ready to strike
The basic idea is that any tweet deemed as misleading will be labelled as such, in a similar way to how Twitter handled misleading tweets surrounding the validity of the US presidential election at the end of last year and early this year.
Labels will pop up under offending tweets explaining that they may be misleading, and also offering a link to reliable information explaining how COVID-19 vaccines are safe for most people. Initially, tweets will be labelled as misleading by members of the Twitter team. Their assessments of said tweets will then be used to inform and update automated tools that will eventually do the same.
Labels will appear in a user’s set language. Twitter says that its goal is “…to provide people with additional context and authoritative information about COVID-19.”
Regarding the strike system, its pretty cut and dry. Your punishment is based on how many strikes you have, and how many strikes you get is determined by the nature of your offence. For example, having a tweet of yours labelled as misleading will earn one strike, but if a tweet of yours gets taken down you get two.
One strike means you’re still safe and doesn’t call for further action. Two and three strikes both result in a 12-hour account lock. Four strikes gets your account locked for a week. And five strikes means you’re out — your account is permanently suspended.
Twitter makes it known that you can appeal if you think you’re account was suspended or locked in error. It finishes off by saying, “We are all in this together, and we will continue to update you on our progress as we strive to play our part to protect the public conversation at this critical time.”