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Twitter bans any COVID-19 tweet that spreads misinformation

SAN FRANCISCO: Twitter on Thursday said it has expanded its safety rules on fake and mischievous coronavirus content that could place people at a higher risk of transmitting COVID-19.

Twitter will require people to remove tweets that include content that increases the chance that someone contracts or transmits the virus.

"It includes denial of expert guidance, encouragement to use fake or ineffective treatments, preventions, and diagnostic techniques and misleading content purporting to be from experts or authorities," the micro-blogging platform said in a statement.

Vijaya Gadde, global lead for legal, policy, and trust and safety at Twitter said the company is increasing its use of machine learning and automation to take a wide range of actions on potentially abusive and manipulative content.

Twitter will take action on tweets "denying global or local health authority recommendations to decrease someone''s likelihood of exposure to COVID-19 with the intent to influence people into acting against recommended guidance, such as: "social distancing is not effective."

"It includes Description of treatments or protective measures which are not immediately harmful but are known to be ineffective, are not applicable to the COVID-19 context, or are being shared with the intent to mislead others."

It will look into tweets that deny "established scientific facts about transmission during the incubation period or transmission guidance from global and local health authorities, such as COVID-19 does not infect children because we haven''t seen any cases of children being sick," said Gadde.

Twitter will purge tweets with "specific and unverified claims that incite people to action and cause widespread panic, social unrest or large-scale disorder".

Propagating false or misleading information around COVID-19 diagnostic criteria or procedures such as "if you can hold your breath for 10 seconds, you do not have coronavirus," will also be removed from the platform.

Claims that specific groups, nationalities are never susceptible to COVID-19, such as "people with dark skin are immune to COVID-19 due to melanin production" or "reading the Quran will make an individual immune to COVID-19" will also be purged, said Twitter.

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PTI