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Updates to our work on COVID-19 vaccine misinformation

By Twitter Safety

As the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines expands, people continue to turn to Twitter to discuss what’s happening and find the latest authoritative public health information.

In December, we shared updates on our work to protect the public conversation surrounding COVID-19. Starting today, we will begin applying labels to Tweets that may contain misleading information about COVID-19 vaccines, in addition to our continued efforts to remove the most harmful COVID-19 misleading information from the service. Since introducing our COVID-19 guidance, we have removed more than 8,400 Tweets and challenged 11.5 million accounts worldwide.

We are also introducing a strike system that determines when further enforcement action is necessary. We believe the strike system will help to educate the public on our policies and further reduce the spread of potentially harmful and misleading information on Twitter, particularly for repeated moderate and high-severity violations of our rules. 

 

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Enforcement details: 

Labels will first be applied by our team members when they determine content violates our policy. Those assessments will be used to further inform our automated tools and to advance our proactive capacity to identify and label similar content across the service. Our goal is to eventually use both automated and human review to address content that violates our COVID-19 vaccine misinformation rules. Machine-learning and automated language processing takes time to be effective. As such, we will begin with English-language content first and use this same process as we work to expand to other languages and cultural contexts over time.  

Labels will appear in your set display language and may link to curated content and official public health information or the Twitter Rules. Our goal with these product interventions is to provide people with additional context and authoritative information about COVID-19.

Through the use of the strike system, we hope to educate people on why certain content breaks our rules so they have the opportunity to further consider their behavior and their impact on the public conversation. This strike system is similar to our recent update to the Civic Integrity Policy. Individuals will be notified directly when a label or required Tweet removal results in additional account-level enforcement. Repeated violations of the COVID-19 policy are enforced against on the basis of the number of strikes an account has accrued for violations of the policy.

  • One strike: no account-level action
  • Two strikes: 12-hour account lock
  • Three strikes: 12-hour account lock
  • Four strikes: 7-day account lock
  • Five or more strikes: permanent suspension
  • As always, if you believe that your account was locked or suspended in error, you can submit an appeal.

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    Partnerships:

    We are not only focused on enforcing the Twitter Rules, but also helping people find credible health information and partnering with the experts. We continue to work in close consultation with local, national, and global public health authorities around the world, most recently: 

  • Finding reliable information. Since January 2020, we have had a dedicated COVID-19 search prompt feature in place within the product. This means when someone searches for COVID-19, they are met with credible, authoritative content at the very top of their search experience. This has been expanded to over 80 countries worldwide and is currently available in 29 languages. In some countries the prompts now also include an additional button which links to COVID-19 vaccine specific information.
  • Pro bono advertising. Through our Ads for Good grants, we continue to partner with nonprofits and NGOs around the world to elevate authoritative information on COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic we’ve supported these efforts across more than 35 countries on a pro bono basis. In addition, we have donated premium advertising products, including Promoted Trend and First View products, to elevate critical public health information such as @FEMA’s message about the agency's vaccination efforts and emergency relief locations during winter storms.
  • Global cooperation. In February 2021, we participated in a global WHO policy consultation to present Twitter’s views on finding and implementing “innovative ways and best practices to address health misinformation in the social media sector.” We continue to host a weekly live Q&A event page for the WHO at #AskWHO.
  • Addressing public questions on Twitter. This month, we facilitated a Twitter Q&A from @WHCOVIDResponse. The Q&A featured Dr. Anthony Fauci, US President Biden’s chief medical advisor, and other members of the White House COVID-19 response team. In India, we worked with the Ministry of Health to organize Vaccine Vartha, a weekly expert talk hosted on Twitter that enables vaccine experts to answer citizen questions. 
  • Encouraging healthy conversation. In January, in partnership with Team HaloUNICEFNHS, and the Vaccine Confidence Project, we activated an emoji hashtag #vaccinated to show support for vaccination. This builds upon our earlier efforts to encourage people to #StayHome, #WashHands, and #WearAMask.

As health authorities deepen their understanding of COVID-19 and vaccination programs around the world, we will continue to amplify the most current, up-to-date, and authoritative information. We are all in this together, and we will continue to update you on our progress as we strive to play our part to protect the public conversation at this critical time.

 

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