Thursday 19 March 2020 10:53 am

Twitter bans misleading information in coronavirus crackdown

Twitter has banned users from posting misleading material about the coronavirus outbreak as it ramps up its crackdown on misinformation.

In a blog post published last night, the social media firm said it would broaden its definition of harmful content to include anything that contradicts guidance from authoritative sources of global and local public health information.

Read more: MPs blast government ‘delay’ in virus fake news crackdown

The new measures will include information intended to manipulate people’s behaviour, such as the statement “ignore news about Covid-19, it’s just an attempt to destroy capitalism by crashing the stock market”.

It also bans descriptions of treatments that are known to be ineffective “even if made in jest” and denial of established scientific facts about the pandemic.

The company will also remove any posts that incite panic, social unrest or widespread disorder.

“Rather than reports, we 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,” Twitter said in a statement.

It follows similar measures rolled out in January by rival social media firm Facebook, which said it will remove posts containing false claims and conspiracy theories about coronavirus.

Read more: New government cyber unit to grill social media firms over coronavirus fake news

It comes as the government ramps up its efforts to clamp down on both misinformation, which is spread accidentally, and disinformation, which is false information intended to mislead.

The government has set up a new cyber unit designed to monitor interference and block disinformation, while tech bosses have been urged to commit data and resources to the fight against the virus.