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Twitter to Call Strikes on Vaccine Misinformation

Five false posts will bring permanent suspension
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2021 7:25 PM CST

(Newser) – Twitter is expanding its system of warning labels for misinformation and conspiracy theories to apply to posts about the coronavirus vaccines. A blog post Monday set out the new rules, the Wall Street Journal reports. Like its practice on election information, the policy will add up users' violations, calling each post that spreads vaccine misinformation a strike. The first strike will bring a warning, the fifth a permanent suspension, and violations in between will cause accounts to be locked for hours or days. Users can appeal their punishment. "Through the use of the strike system, we hope to educate people on why certain content breaks our rules so they have the opportunity to further consider their behavior and their impact on the public conversation," the company post said. Twitter said it has removed more than 8,400 tweets and challenged 11.5 million accounts around the world since December, when it announced it would take down vaccine misinformation, per USA Today.

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Enforcement will begin with employees slapping labels on tweets not grounded in reliable research or reporting. Then automated tools will get the idea and start labeling similar content. "Our goal is to eventually use both automated and human review to address content that violates our COVID-19 vaccine misinformation rules," the company said. "Machine-learning and automated language processing takes time to be effective." The labels could link to public health information or curated content. Tweets written in English will be reviewed first. Facebook said last month that it had taken down 12 million pieces of content from Facebook and Instagram that violated its rules on coronavirus misinformation. Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said last week that Twitter intends to make its moderation of content more transparent, per the Journal. "We agree many people don’t trust us," he said. (Twitter is planning other changes.)

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