Twitter to Use Strike System to Take Down What They Consider COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation

March 3, 2021 Updated: March 3, 2021

Twitter announced on Monday it will put warnings on posts that contain what the platform considers to be misleading information about the CCP virus vaccines, as well as put into practice a strike system that would see users who repeatedly break their rules banned.

The enforcement would be monitored by humans who define what misinformation is, who are then assisted by computers through machine learning.

“Labels will first be applied by our team members when they determine content violates our policy,” Twitter said in a statement about the new rules. “Those assessments will be used to further inform our automated tools and to advance our proactive capacity to identify and label similar content across the service.”

The labels may link to content curated by Twitter, explaining that the company is aiming to uphold “high standards of accuracy, impartiality and fairness in our curation.”

One strike in the system would result in “no account-level action,” but a 12-hour lockout would come as a consequence for two strikes, another 12 hours for three strikes, a seven-day lockout for four strikes, and a permanent suspension for more than five strikes, the platform said.

The social media platform stated that with this system, they aspire 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.”

Prior to the declaration of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus outbreak as a global pandemic, Twitter had been distributing health-related information and removing “demonstrably false or misleading content about the virus that had the highest risk of causing harm,” according to Reuters.

After their CCP virus guidelines were established, Twitter said they removed over 8,400 posts and challenged over 11 million accounts.

Now, with people looking for trustworthy information on the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines, Twitter said it would expand its guidance.

Twitter’s top person in charge of UK public policy, Katy Minshall, acknowledged the role that Twitter has played in distributing reliable information on public health.

“We continue to work with health authorities around the world—including (Britain’s health service) the NHS—to ensure high visibility access to trusted and accurate public health information on our service, including about COVID-19 vaccines,” she said.

“Today we will begin applying labels to tweets that may contain misleading information about COVID-19 vaccines, in addition to our continued efforts to remove the most harmful COVID-19 misleading information from the service.”

In January, Twitter introduced a “community-based approach to misinformation,” as it works to develop a system where the general user will be able to add a note and report on different posts, specifying their opinion if they find something wrong with what other people write.

“We apply labels and add context to Tweets, but we don’t want to limit efforts to circumstances where something breaks our rules or receives widespread public attention. We also want to broaden the range of voices that are part of tackling this problem, and we believe a community-driven approach can help,” read a Jan. 25 statement released by the company.

The name of the pilot system is “birdwatch.” Approved contributors will add “notes” that are viewable to the public on posts they believe are “misleading.”

Birdwatch is in a testing phase, so the notes are visible on a different web address for now. Twitter says that the data will be publicly downloadable in TSV files.

“We hope this will enable experts, researchers, and the public to analyze or audit Birdwatch, identifying opportunities or flaws that can help us more quickly build an effective community-driven solution,” the tech giant’s web reads.

“We know this might be messy and have problems at times, but we believe this is a model worth trying.”