TWITTER will start alerting users to posts that contain misleading information on the coronavirus pandemic – even if it’s tweeted by President Trump.
The social media giant made the announcement on Monday, amid a surge of misinformation that has been spread during the global pandemic.
Twitter’s new stance is the latest in a wave of stricter policies being rolled out to confront an outbreak of virus-related misinformation on social media sites.
Facebook and Google, which owns YouTube, have enforced similar rules.
Twitter announced in March that it would remove coronavirus related tweets that could cause a "direct risk to people's health or well-being."
Starting Monday, it will now also use labels and warning messages "to provide additional explanations or clarifications in situations where the risks of harm associated with a Tweet are less severe but where people may still be confused or misled by the content."
President Trump, arguably one of Twitter's most prolific user, will also be subject to the new rules, according to Yoel Roth, Twitter's head of site integrity.
Roth wrote in a tweet on Monday: "These labels will apply to anyone sharing misleading information that meets the requirements of our policy, including world leaders.”
At a White House briefing in April, Trump suggested ingesting disinfectants could help cure coronavirus.
Twitter exploded with criticism of his comments, #Dettol trending across the globe.
Robert Reich, a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and a former secretary of labor, tweeted: “Trump’s briefings are actively endangering the public’s health.
"Boycott the propaganda. Listen to the experts. And please don’t drink disinfectant.”
Physician Daniel Summers wrote: "I am reasonably certain you don’t need a medical degree to suss this out, but in case you need to hear it from a professional: things that are safe and effective outside the body are not necessarily so inside it.
"The inside and outside of your body are different in many ways."
Dr. Kashif Mahmood added: "As a physician, I can't recommend injecting disinfectant into the lungs or using UV radiation inside the body to treat COVID-19.
"Don't take medical advice from Trump."
Dettol itself later released a statement begging people not to inject themselves with its products.
Although Twitter says it is rolling out the new rules, the video of Trump recommending injecting disinfectant and using ultraviolet lights as a coronavirus treatment has remained on the platform.
A Twitter spokeswoman previously told Reuters that the company considered Trump's remarks a wish for a COVID-19 treatment, rather than a literal call for people to inject disinfectant.
However Twitter’s new COVID-19 misinformation policy states that it has broadened its definition of harm to address content that goes against guidance from authoritative sources of public health information.
From Monday, Twitter will take a case-by-case approach to how it decides which tweets are labeled and will only remove posts that are harmful – however they could also be applied retroactively.
Some tweets will run with a label underneath that directs users to a link with additional information about COVID-19.
Other tweets might be covered entirely by a warning label alerting users that "some or all of the content shared in this tweet conflict with guidance from public health experts regarding COVID-19."
Twitter announced in February a similar initiative to label doctored or manipulated photos or images on its site after a video of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was slowed down to make it appear as if she slurred her words.
Since then, Twitter has only applied the label twice to manipulated media.
Conspiracy theories about how the virus started and if it is man-made have swirled around social media for months.
The company has already been removing bogus coronavirus cures and claims that social distancing or face masks do not curb the virus' spread.
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