Twitter has started adding labels to tweets that include false information, beginning with those related to the coronavirus, but possibly expanding to other topics over time.
The company announced its decision to “update” its approach to misleading information in a blog post on Monday.
“In March, we broadened our policy guidance to address content that goes directly against guidance on COVID-19 from authoritative sources of global and local public health information,” wrote Twitter’s Yoel Roth and Nick Pickles. “Moving forward, we may use these labels and warning messages to provide additional explanations or clarifications in situations where the risks of harm associated with a Tweet are less severe but where people may still be confused or misled by the content…
“Earlier this year, we introduced a new label for Tweets containing synthetic and manipulated media. Similar labels will now appear on Tweets containing potentially harmful, misleading information related to COVID-19. This will also apply to Tweets sent before today. These labels will link to a Twitter-curated page or external trusted source containing additional information on the claims made within the Tweet. Depending on the propensity for harm and type of misleading information, warnings may also be applied to a Tweet. These warnings will inform people that the information in the Tweet conflicts with public health experts’ guidance before they view it.”
A recent study by Oxford University researchers found that Twitter is a particularly prevalent source of COVID-19 misinformation — with nearly 60% of false statements on the topic unlabeled. Facebook and other social platforms are also significant sources of misinformation.
Twitter also said that it is "opening to adjusting" the current labeling system as it "explores labeling different types of misleading information... we’ll keep working to build tools and offer context so that people can find credible and authentic information on Twitter."
The Twitter changes come just days after Facebook announced that it is creating an oversight board for content decisions — a move that has been praised by some and characterized as an ineffective PR move by others.