Who watches the watchman?
Twitter expanded its guidelines Wednesday on “unverified claims that incite people to engage in harmful activity” related to the pandemic.
The company noted that some of the more popular unverified claims that it will clamp down on include theories that “could lead to the destruction or damage of critical 5G infrastructure, or could lead to widespread panic, social unrest or large-scale disorder.”
Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have all taken recent measures to combat coronavirus misinformation, but some First Amendment advocates think these are steps in the wrong direction and could limit free speech.
“It honestly doesn’t matter whether or not they think they are doing the right thing, as the old saying goes ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions,’” conservative strategist Chris Barron told Fox News. “At some point we have to recognize that there are limits to what governments and big tech can do to protect people. At some point we have to trust in people to do the right thing,” Barron said. “We are at that point. We must stop the urge to trade away unthinkable amounts of power to the government and big tech companies in exchange for empty promises of safety.”
Twitter removing coronavirus tweets it deems could trigger ‘social unrest’
Social media company says it will remove posts based on ‘unverified claims’
By Audrey Conklin, Fox Business, April 23, 2020:
Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.
Twitter on Wednesday expanded its coronavirus safety guidance regarding what qualifies as “unverified claims” to include posts it deems “could lead to widespread panic, social unrest or large-scale disorder.”
The update builds upon March 27 guidance from Twitter saying it will “require people to remove tweets” that contain certain “unverified claims” as social media platforms crack down on coronavirus misinformation being spread online during the pandemic.
Facebook and Eventbrite recently started removing events that encourage people to defy COVID-19 social distancing regulations as protests to reopen the economy pop up across the country.
“We have broadened our guidance on unverified claims that incite people to engage in harmful activity, could lead to the destruction or damage of critical 5G infrastructure, or could lead to widespread panic, social unrest or large-scale disorder,” Twitter said in a Wednesday tweet.
We have broadened our guidance on unverified claims that incite people to engage in harmful activity, could lead to the destruction or damage of critical 5G infrastructure, or could lead to widespread panic, social unrest, or large-scale disorder.
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) April 22, 2020
Twitter’s mention of 5G, or fifth-generation, wireless infrastructure is in reference to a conspiracy theory that spread across the internet in recent weeks linking the COVID-19 to 5G infrastructure that has led some people in the U.K. to burn cell towers.
A tweet mentioning such a conspiracy theory is an example of something Twitter would remove under its new guidelines.
Twitter gave other examples of tweets that would be removed under its new policies, including: “‘The National Guard just announced that no more shipments of food will be arriving for two months — run to the grocery store ASAP and buy everything’ or ‘5G causes coronavirus — go destroy the cell towers in your neighborhood!'”
The social media site has removed more than 2,230 tweets “containing misleading and potentially harmful content” since March 18, when it first updated its safety policies regarding COVID-19 information, Twitter said in another Wednesday tweet.
Since introducing our updated policies on March 18, we’ve removed over 2,230 Tweets containing misleading and potentially harmful content. Our automated systems have challenged more than 3.4 million accounts targeting manipulative discussions around COVID-19.
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) April 22, 2020
The site’s algorithms have also “challenged more than 3.4 million accounts targeting manipulative discussions around COVID-19,” the tweet says.
A company spokesperson told FOX Business in a statement that while it will not remove every tweet that contains “disputed or incomplete” information about the virus, it is “prioritizing the removal of COVID-19 content when it has a call to action that could potentially cause harm.”
FACEBOOK REMOVING EVENTS THAT DEFY CORONAVIRUS SOCIAL DISTANCING GUIDELINES
Fake information on social media has been deadly. Last month, Iranian media reported more than 300 people had died and 1,000 were sickened in the country after ingesting methanol, a toxic alcohol rumored to be a remedy on social media.
Facebook has made even stricter updates to its platform. Starting as early as January, the company’s third-party fact-check team has been working with global health professionals to review and debunk false claims about the virus.
Ticker Security Last Change Change %
TWTR TWITTER INC. 28.41 -0.03 -0.11%
FB FACEBOOK INC. 186.26 +3.98 +2.18%
In March, Facebook announced that it would also start removing “content with false claims or conspiracy theories that have been flagged by leading global health organizations and local health authorities that could cause harm to people who believe them,” according to a regularly updated COVID-19 blog post.
The company is also letting users know when they have “liked” coronavirus hoaxes posted to the platform of more than 2 billion users. Facebook says it has removed “hundreds of thousands” of posts containing potentially harmful COVID-19 misinformation.
Side view of young woman with face protective mask on the street. / iStock
Social media and tech giants have played a huge role in providing information to and from people and government organizations, but some experts and activists say it’s going too far.
APPLE, GOOGLE TO TRACK CORONAVIRUS INFECTION VIA SMARTPHONES
More than 100 human rights groups issued a letter in early April saying that while technology and social media play an important role in connecting people with accurate information, if governments do not oversee the means by which tech companies gather data, privacy rights issues could arise.
The Coronavirus response “must not be used as a cover to usher in a new era of greatly expanded systems of invasive surveillance.”
We joined 100+ civil society orgs around the world to send a clear message to Governments. We’re watching the watchers 🕵️♀️ https://t.co/e7997GdyFA
— Big Brother Watch (@BigBrotherWatch) April 2, 2020
“Technology can and should play an important role during this effort to save lives, such as to spread public health messages and increase access to health care. However, an increase in state digital surveillance powers, such as obtaining access to mobile phone location data, threatens privacy, freedom of expression and freedom of association, in ways that could violate rights and degrade trust in public authorities,” the groups wrote.
They added that “such measures also pose a risk of discrimination and may disproportionately harm already marginalized communities.”
Twitter said it is enforcing its new policy with reports from trusted partners, including public health authorities and local governments.
“We’re focused on protecting the public conversation and helping people find authoritative sources of information on Twitter. Our search prompt is live in more than 80 countries, and we’re making the latest facts easy to discover by placing them with a dedicated event page at the top of people’s timelines and within the Explore tab,” a Twitter spokesperson said.
Have a tip we should know? Your anonymity is NEVER compromised. Email email@example.com
The Truth Must be Told
Your contribution supports independent journalism
Please take a moment to consider this. Now, more than ever, people are reading Geller Report for news they won't get anywhere else. But advertising revenues have all but disappeared. Google Adsense is the online advertising monopoly and they have banned us. Social media giants like Facebook and Twitter have blocked and shadow-banned our accounts. But we won't put up a paywall. Because never has the free world needed independent journalism more.
Everyone who reads our reporting knows the Geller Report covers the news the media won't. We cannot do our ground-breaking report without your support. We must continue to report on the global jihad and the left's war on freedom. Our readers’ contributions make that possible.
Geller Report's independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our work is critical in the fight for freedom and because it is your fight, too.
Please contribute here.
Make a monthly commitment to support The Geller Report – choose the option that suits you best.