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Even media freedom groups push back against Twitter’s coronavirus censorship rules

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Perhaps a little late to the party – but Twitter has now joined others in the Big Tech cabal in imposing tougher restrictions on coronavirus speech allowed on its platform.

Twitter’s competitors like YouTube and Facebook have been “battling” coronavirus in their own way for weeks now (and that’s by severely limiting speech and offering to install more tracking software on your phones – this time, they promise, for a good cause).

And considering that social and economic restrictions are slowly being lifted in many parts of the world, suggesting that the pandemic and hopefully all that it’s brought with it might be on its way out – Twitter does seem to have reacted surprisingly slowly in ramping up content policing on its platform.

Nevertheless, it’s here now – but even with the extra time its given itself to come up with ways to fight “fake news and misinformation” around the crisis, critics suggest Twitter’s not doing a great job.

“More clarity” is being demanded by UK’s Society of Editors (SoE) when it comes to a range of warning messages that are now attached to tweets containing disputed information.

SoE, described as being among UK’s leading media freedom organizations, has the most logical question for Twitter that goes straight to the heart of the problem with these recent, but also past censorship efforts on social media: “Who will decide what conversations fall foul of its stricter disinformation labeling strategy?”

And SoE would also like Twitter to apply its “three-pronged” approach carefully, to make sure that legitimate debate on the topic is not lost as content is being flagged and removed based on what now looks to be an insufficiently transparent new policy.

Meanwhile, what Twitter means by three-pronged is allowing some tweets to stand, but attaching a label to them, and prodding users to follow links to “additional information” regarding coronavirus.

Somehow (this is where the lack of clarity comes in) Twitter will grade other posts as “more serious” in spreading disinformation, and they will be labeled as completely or partially flaunting guidance from “public health experts.”

And if Twitter decides a post has “a high propensity” for real-world harm it will be deleted. The vagueness of language is truly strong with this one.

If you’re tired of censorship and surveillance, join Reclaim The Net.

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