Twitter no longer enforces its COVID-19 disinformation policy

Twitter is no longer enforcing its COVID-19 disinformation policy, scrapping it less than a month after Space Karen Elon Musk acquired the company. I am shocked. This is my shocked face.

“As the global community faces the COVID-19 pandemic together, Twitter is helping people find trusted information, connect with others, and follow what’s happening in real time.” Twitter’s Transparency Center still says. While that sentence still stands, it is now immediately followed by another comment: “As of November 23, 2022, Twitter will no longer enforce the COVID-19 Misinformation Policy.”

This policy has also disappeared from Twitter’s Help Center, unceremoniously ditching important safeguards that the platform had gradually developed over literal years.

Mashable has reached out to Twitter for comment, which is just a formality at this point as Musk has fired pretty much anyone who might have responded.

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Misinformation about COVID-19 has been a major and dangerous problem throughout the pandemic, with many social media platforms struggling to manage. As such, Twitter attempted to address the issue by making several updates to its policies, including expanding its safety rules to ban tweets that could put people at greater risk of transmitting the coronavirus. Such tweets include encouraging fake treatments, spreading misleading content claiming to come from authorities, or denying expert guidance.

Twitter added warning labels to tweets that went against the advice of public health experts. It has updated its policy to specifically address unfounded conspiracy theories falsely spreading a link between 5G technology and COVID-19. It also began banning users for repeatedly posting misinformation about COVID-19.

Now all of these safety measures are no longer in effect, meaning Twitter users are seemingly free to advise others to cure themselves of COVID-19 by injecting themselves with bleach. (Very important side note: Do not do this.) Musk has also said Twitter will reinstate all suspended accounts that have not broken the law or engaged in gross spam, meaning Twitter could soon play host to countless other spreaders of COVID-19 misinformation.

Unfortunately, the rapid destruction of Twitter’s coronavirus safety measures isn’t surprising. It is known that Musk himself posted tweets flirting with Twitter’s COVID-19 disinformation policy, writing that it ‘Maybe worth considering chloroquine for C19’ and that “Hydroxychloroquine [is] probably better.” None of these drugs are recommended by health experts to treat COVID-19, and studies conclude they are ineffective.

Still, Twitter determined that Musk’s tweets somehow didn’t violate his policies, allowing Elon “the panic about the coronavirus is stupid” Musk to continue sharing his thoughts on the galaxy-brained coronavirus with millions of followers.

Clearly, Twitter’s COVID-19 disinformation policy wasn’t perfect. But with absolutely nothing in place, the microblogging platform is now in a prime position to sink to previously unexplored depths.

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