How Twitter is Combatting COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation

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How Twitter is Combatting COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation

The COVID-19 pandemic has been going on for more than a year now. It has killed more people than anyone can imagine and adversely affected almost every single person around the world. Fortunately, the joint efforts of the governments, medical professionals, and researchers have resulted in a vaccine that can potentially protect us from the deadly virus.

However, along with the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines are the increasing misinformation that circulates online about it. For this reason, the micro-blogging platform Twitter is advancing its efforts in combatting vaccine-related misinformation on its platform. 

How Twitter is Combatting COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation

Twitter vs. Twitter Followers Spreading Misinformation

As governments start to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, a lot of people are relying on growing real Twitter Followers in order to discuss what is happening. They also use the micro-blogging platform to find the most recent and authoritative public health information. 

In December 2020, Twitter shared updates on its efforts to protect the public conversation about COVID-19. Now, the social media giant has started to apply labels to tweets that potentially contain misleading information about the COVID-19 vaccines. In addition, it is continuing its previous efforts of removing the most harmful COVID-19 related misleading information from the platform. Notably, Twitter has already taken down more than 8,400 tweets ever since it introduced its COVID-19 policies. It has also challenged a total of 11.5 million accounts all over the world. 

The social media giant has also introduced a strike system. Such is a technology that determines when it is necessary to take further enforcement action. The social media giant believes that this striking system will help in educating the public about the platform’s policies. It will also reduce the dissemination of possibly harmful and misleading information on Twitter. This is especially more applicable for repeated moderate and high-severity violations of the platform’s rules. 

More Details About the Enforcement of COVID-19 Vaccine-related Policies

The team members of Twitter will first apply the labels when they determine that a particular tweet has violated the platform’s policy. Then, those assessments will be used so that the Twitter staff can further inform their automated tools. Twitter will also use it to advance its proactive capacity of identifying and labeling similar content across its platform. 

Moreover, the goal of this effort is to use both human and automated review eventually in terms of addressing content that violates the platform’s COVID-19 vaccine misinformation rules. However, automated language processing and machine learning take some time before they can be effective. For this reason, the social media giant will start with English-language content first. Then, it will use the same process as it works to expand to other cultural contexts and languages over time. 

The said labels will show up in the users’ set display language. It may also link to curated content as well as official public health information and the Twitter Rules. These product interventions have the goal of providing users with authoritative information and additional context about COVID-19. 

How Twitter is Combatting COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation

By using the strike system, Twitter is hoping that it can educate people as to why certain tweets break the platform’s rules. This way, they will have the chance to further consider their behavior as well as their impact on the public conversation. 

Moreover, the strike system is similar to the company’s recent update to the Civic Integrity Policy. People will directly receive a notification in an instance that a label or required removal of tweet results in an added account-level enforcement. 

Below are the punishments for an account that violated Twitter’s policies. 

  • First Strike: no account-level action
  • Second Strike: will receive a 12-hour account lock
  • Third Strike: the user will have their account locked for 12 hours
  • Fourth Strike: an account will be locked for seven days
  • Fifth Strike or More: the account will be taken down permanently

If you think that your account has been locked or suspended due to an error, you can always submit an appeal to Twitter.

Twitter’s Partnerships

Moreover, the social media giant is not only focused on enforcing its rule. Rather, it also focuses on helping people find relevant and credible health information. For this reason, the company partnered with experts and continuously worked closely with national, local, as well as global public health authorities around the world. 

How Twitter is Combatting COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation

Here are the additional efforts that Twitter did:

Finding relevant and reliable information

Since January last year, Twitter had a search prompt feature dedicated to COVID-19 information in place with the product. Meaning, when someone searches for information about OCVID-19, they will see authoritative and credible content at the top of their searches. 

This feature has been expanded to more than 80 countries around the world. In addition, it is available in 29 languages. There are also some countries where the search prompt feature includes an added button, linking them to COVID-19 vaccine-specific information.

Global Cooperation

The social media giant participated in a global World Health Organization policy consultation last February. Its aim is to present the platform’s views in terms of finding and implementing the most innovative and best practices in addressing health misinformation in the social media industry. 

Addressing Public Questions on the Platform

The company has also facilitated a Twitter Q&A from World Health COVID Response this March. The Q&A session featured the chief medical advisor of US President Biden  — Dr. Anthony Fauci. It also featured some of the members of the COVID-19 response team of the White House. 

In addition, the social media giant also worked with India’s Ministry of Health in order to organize Vaccine Varth. Such is a weekly expert talk that Twitter hosts. It gives vaccine experts the opportunity to answer the questions of the public. 

Pro Bono Advertising

Through Instagram’s Ads for Good grants, Twitter continues to partner with NGOs and non-profit organizations around the world. This move aims to elevate authoritative information related to COVID-19. These efforts were supported by the company across more than 35 countries on a pro bono basis. 

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