Twitter has officially adopted and implemented a “Crisis Misinformation” policy. The policy is designed to tackle misinformation campaigns during “situations of armed conflict, public health emergencies, and large-scale natural disasters”. The timing of the official implementation does seem to clash with the ongoing acquisition deal of the micro-blogging network.
Twitter defines crises as, “situations in which there is a widespread threat to life, physical safety, health, or basic subsistence.” This definition is in line with the United Nations’ identification and classification of crises.
The platform clarified that in order to determine whether a claim is misleading it will depend on “verification from multiple credible, publicly available sources, including evidence from conflict monitoring groups, humanitarian organizations, open-source investigators, journalists, and more.”
The 'Crisis Misinformation' policy will be “globally applicable”, which should “help to ensure viral misinformation isn’t amplified or recommended” by the platform during crises. This means if Twitter determines a Tweet is misleading or the information it contains is inaccurate or fake, the platform’s algorithms would take measures to reduce the visibility of the Tweet.
If a Tweet is found misleading, Twitter’s label will hide it but not remove it from the site. The warning label will read:
“In addition, we will prioritize adding warning notices to highly visible Tweets and Tweets from high profile accounts, such as state-affiliated media accounts, verified official government accounts,” claimed Twitter.
While the Crisis Misinformation policy, in itself, is direly needed, the timing seems a little odd. Elon Musk, who has made an acquisition bid for the platform, has been vocal about Twitter’s alleged clampdown on “Free Speech” and instigating or allowing “Hate Speech” to flourish. He has even stated that Twitter should only take down posts that violate the law.
As always, the adoption of any policy that tries to rid the platform of fake news and propaganda is welcome. However, the platform will have to ensure impartial enforcement of the same.