great day for misinformation
Twitter is no longer enforcing its COVID-19 misinformation policy, which was developed and implemented in 2020 to combat harmful misinformation about the coronavirus and its accompanying vaccines.
Twitter did not officially announce the change, it seems; rather, per CNN, some users noticed the following update to the platform's rules on Monday night: "Effective Nov. 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the COVID-19 misleading information policy."
The shift represents yet another example of transformation under the platform's newly-minted owner, billionaire Elon Musk, who has vowed to reform Twitter's values of free speech and restore a number of previously-banned accounts. The move also arrives "amid concerns of Twitter's ability to fight misinformation after it let go about half of its staff, including those involved in content moderation," Reuters writes.
"Misinformation policies are very labor intensive to enforce as it typically requires human review to read context," Tom Tarantino, former head of Twitter's COVID-19 Response Task Force, told Politico. "As many — or all — of the team that is enforcing that policy is no longer there, I imagine that this is more about practicality than philosophy."
Without the COVID misinformation policy in place, public health experts fear an influx in false claims about the coronavirus as it continues to spread, The Associated Press reports. This rollback "will do more harm," said Jack Resneck Jr., president of the American Medical Association.
Over 11,000 Twitter accounts were suspended under COVID misinformation rules between January 2020 and September 2022; per CNN, it's possible some of the accounts Musk restores will be those that were affected by the policy.