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Twitter to ban “harmful misleading” information about coronavirus vaccines

Another Big Tech restriction on coronavirus conversations.
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Twitter has announced that new restrictions will be coming to the platform from Monday which will ban what Twitter deems to be “harmful misleading information” about the coronavirus vaccine and suppress a wide range of vaccine-related claims including those that are “disputed.”

In a blog post, Twitter wrote that tweets which “advance harmful false or misleading narratives about COVID-19 vaccinations” will be removed. It added that some of the specific claims that will be banned under these rules include; “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,” or “false claims that COVID-19 is not real or not serious, and therefore that vaccinations are unnecessary.”

Twitter’s post doesn’t expand on which sources or criteria will be used to determine when a claim about the adverse impacts of receiving vaccinations will be considered “widely debunked.”

The company also revealed that tweets about the coronavirus vaccine that aren’t considered to be harmful or misleading may still be labeled – a measure that results in the tweets being de-amplified through Twitter’s recommendations system.

These labels may be applied to tweets if Twitter determines that they’re advancing “unsubstantiated rumors,” “disputed claims,” “incomplete,” or “out-of-context information” about vaccines.

Not only will these tweets be labeled and de-amplified but the labels may also link to “authoritative public health information or the Twitter Rules to provide people with additional context and authoritative information about COVID-19.”

The introduction of these aggressive restrictions on vaccine-related tweets follows Twitter banning or restricting a wide range of other statements about the coronavirus including unverified claims that “could” lead to social unrest and denial of “expert guidance” about the coronavirus.

Millions of accounts have been challenged under Twitter’s existing coronavirus rules including those of journalists, White House advisors, and the President.

Twitter is one of several Big Tech platforms to restrict what its users can say about the coronavirus. Facebook recently banned “false claims” about COVID-19 vaccines while YouTube banned videos that go against the World Health Organization (WHO) “consensus” on coronavirus vaccines in October.

In addition to censoring many vaccine-related claims, several of these Big Tech platforms are amplifying pro-vaccine content. Facebook is planning to show banner ads at the top of users’ News Feed which encourage them to take the vaccine while YouTube will display vaccine information panels which direct users to the WHO and other health organizations that it has deemed to be “authoritative.”

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