Twitter Inc. said on Wednesday that users will be required to remove new tweets that advance harmful false or misleading claims about COVID-19 vaccinations, in an expansion of its rules on coronavirus misinformation.
The social media company said in a blog post that users could be required to remove tweets with false claims that suggest vaccines are “used to intentionally cause harm to or control populations, including statements about vaccines that invoke a deliberate conspiracy.”
“Starting next week, we will prioritize the removal of the most harmful misleading information, and during the coming weeks, begin to label Tweets that contain potentially misleading information about the vaccines,” Twitter said in its blog, announcing the policy in the same week that the first Americans and Canadians received COVID-19 vaccinations as part of immunization campaigns.
Conspiracy theories and misinformation about the coronavirus and its possible vaccines have proliferated on social media platforms during the pandemic.
The social media company said it would be expanding its policy of “mitigating misleading information that presents the biggest potential harm to people’s health and wellbeing” and may require people to remove tweets that are:
- False claims that suggest immunizations and vaccines are used to intentionally cause harm to or control populations, including statements about vaccines that invoke a deliberate conspiracy.
- False claims which have been widely debunked about the adverse impacts or effects of receiving vaccinations.
- False claims that COVID-19 is not real or not serious, and therefore that vaccinations are unnecessary.
Twitter may label some posts next year
Twitter said that starting early next year, it may also label or place a warning on tweets that advance “unsubstantiated rumours, disputed claims, as well as incomplete or out-of-context information” about the vaccines.
A Twitter spokesperson said the company would determine with public health partners which vaccine misinformation is harmful enough to warrant removal.
Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc-owned Google have both in recent weeks announced bans on false claims about the vaccine that go against information from public health experts.
Video-sharing social media platform TikTok on Tuesday said it’s fighting misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines by adding commonly asked questions and answers about the shots.
The information will come from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and can be accessed through TikTok’s Discover page.