Twitter’s new strike system will target prolific COVID-19 fake information spreaders

Twitter is set to introduce a strike system to remove repeat spreaders of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation from the platform. 

On Monday, Twitter said that alongside removing thousands of tweets and examining over 11.5 million accounts linked to fake information on the microblogging platform, the company will now start applying labels to tweets “that may contain misleading information about COVID-19 vaccines.”

This system is similar to one already imposed by Facebook, which has also adopted a targeted misinformation approach based on user locations and measuring attitudes to topics including vaccinations and mask-wearing worldwide. 

Twitter will first use human employees to make the decisions over whether tweets violate company policy, and these assessments will then be used to train automated tools and algorithms to detect misinformation. 

The firm intends to eventually use “both automated and human review to address content that violates our COVID-19 vaccine misinformation rules.”

Persistent spreads of fake COVID-19 vaccine content will receive a ‘strike’. While this won’t deter bots, Twitter hopes the system will “educate” users “on why certain content breaks our rules so they have the opportunity to further consider their behavior and their impact on the public conversation.”

Twitter will alert users when they receive a strike, and after two, a 12-hour account lock will be applied. After three strikes, another 12-hour ban will be imposed, and after four, users will be unable to access their account for a week. 

Five strikes or more will be punished by permanent suspension. However, users do retain the right to appeal. 

In addition to introducing the strike system, Twitter has debuted a COVID-19 search prompt to push up results from official sources including health organizations; free non-profit advertising, and ongoing collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO). 

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