Twitter is cracking down on the spread of misinformation on the platform, including appending warning labels to seemingly misleading tweets — including, at times, tweets by the president. But on Friday, Twitter users appeared to find the limits of the fact-checking algorithm, which was indiscriminately slapping COVID-19 misinformation warnings on any and all tweets that used both the words "frequency" and "oxygen."
Soon a meme was born: try to use the words "frequency" and "oxygen" in a sentence that doesn't possibly have anything to do with COVID-19, and get flagged:
When users clicked to "get the facts about COVID-19," they were redirected to a Twitter Moment titled "No, 5G isn't causing coronavirus."
The "oxygen" and "frequency" glitch apparently stemmed from a disproved conspiracy theory that 5G is somehow a dangerous "frequency" that "sucks the oxygen out of the atmosphere and disrupts the regular functioning of the human body," as The Independent reports. A petition on Change.org that got over 114,000 signatures even claimed that "60 megahertz waves" would "suck the oxygen out of our lungs," and that "symptoms of 5G exposure include respiratory problems, flu-like symptoms (temperature rises, fever, headaches), pneumonia. Very much like the effects of the coronavirus." The theory has been repeatedly, and reputably, debunked.