Twitter expands its safety rules in relation to COVID-19

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The company launches a feature in the MENA region to guide people to credible sources when searching for information around the virus

19 March 2020 – Twitter is regularly working with and looking to trusted partners, including public health authorities, organizations and governments to inform its approach.

Starting today and in place during this outbreak, Twitter will be making the below changes to its policy enforcement approach:

  • Broadening its definition of harm to address content that goes directly against guidance from authoritative sources of global and local public health information. Rather than reports, it will enforce this in close coordination with trusted partners, including public health authorities and governments, and continue to use and consult with information from those sources when reviewing content. Under this new guidance, it will require people to remove Tweets that include:
    • Denial of 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”, or actively encouraging people to not social distance themselves in areas known to be impacted by COVID-19.
    • 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, even if made in jest, such as “coronavirus is not heat-resistant – walking outside is enough to disinfect you” or “use aromatherapy and essential oils to prevent COVID-19.”
    • Description of harmful treatments or protection measures which are known to be ineffective, do not apply to COVID-19, or are being shared out of context to mislead people, even if made in jest, such as “drinking bleach and ingesting colloidal silver will cure COVID-19.”
    • Denial of established scientific facts about transmission during the incubation period or following 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.”
    • Specific claims around COVID-19 information that’s intending to manipulate people into certain behavior for the gain of a third party with a call to action within the claim, such as “coronavirus is a fraud and not real – go out and patronize your local bar!!” or “The news about washing your hands is propaganda for soap companies, stop washing your hands.” or “Ignore news about COVID-19, it’s just an attempt to destroy capitalism by crashing the stock market.”
    • Specific and unverified claims that incite people to action and cause widespread panic, social unrest or large-scale disorder, such as “The National Guard just announced that no more shipments of food will be arriving for 2 months – run to the grocery store ASAP and buy everything!”
    • Specific and unverified claims made by people impersonating a government or health official or organization such as a parody account of an Italian health official stating that the country’s quarantine is over.
    • 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.”
    • False or misleading claims on how to differentiate between COVID-19 and a different disease, and that information attempts to definitively diagnose someone, such as “If you have a wet cough, it’s not coronavirus – but a dry cough is” or “You’ll feel like you’re drowning in snot if you have coronavirus – it’s not a normal runny nose.”
    • 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”.
    • Claims that specific groups, nationalities are more susceptible to COVID-19, such as “Avoid businesses owned by Chinese people as they are more likely to have COVID-19.”

Starting this week, Twitter’s dedicated COVID-19 Event page has been launched in Arabic in the following MENA countries: Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt. Plans to expand this page to additional countries are underway. The Twitter app must be set in Arabic language to surface the Arabic Event page.

Global expansion of the COVID-19 search prompt

Launched six days before the official designation of the virus in January, Twitter continues to expand its dedicated search prompt feature to ensure that when people come to the service for information about Covid-19, they are met with credible, authoritative content at the top of their search experience. Twitter has been consistently monitoring the conversation on the service to make sure keywords — including common misspellings — also generate the search prompt.

In each country where Twitter has launched the initiative, it has partnered with the national public health agency or the World Health Organization (@WHO) directly. The proactive search prompt is in place with official local partnerships in approximately 50 countries around the world, with countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

The prompt in the MENA region is available in English and Arabic and includes the following countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan,  Syria, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen.

See Arabic translation here