Twitter has revealed that it will start removing and challenging tweets that contain fake news about COVID-19. Specifically, the social media company has said that it will remove tweets that incite people towards taking action and causing widespread panic, causing social unrest or large-scale disorder related to COVID-19.

The announcement comes at a time when many people around the world have been destroying 5G towers because of the false theory that 5G causes COVID-19 to spread.

"We have broadened our guidance on unverified claims that incite people to engage in harmful activity, could lead to the destruction or damage of critical 5G infrastructure, or could lead to widespread panic, social unrest, or large-scale disorder," reads a tweet by the company.

5G does not cause the spread of COVID-19

A spokesperson from Twitter also re-emphasized that they will be looking into prioritizing the removal of COVID-19 tweets that appear to have a call to action that could potentially cause harm. Speaking to TechCrunch, the spokesperson sounded a warning specifically to those calling on people to destroy 5G infrastructure.

β€œSince introducing these new policies, we’ve removed more than 2,200 Tweets. [We have also] doubled down on tech, our automated systems have challenged more than 3.4 million accounts which were targeting discussions around COVID-19 with spammy or manipulative behaviours.”

Thin line between fighting fake news and censorship

As the coronavirus pandemic continues across the world, several countries (including in Africa) and social media companies have started passing laws and policies β€œto stop the spread of COVID-19.” Some of these laws include fines and jail terms for spreading β€œfake news,” we need to be careful with such laws as it is a slippery slope that can be abuse by governments.

However, it is a very thin line between stopping the spread of fake news and censorship.

The actions and steps taken by Twitter, other social media companies and governments are understandable during a pandemic. However, we need to be careful that in the long run we are not enabling censorship.

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