Twitter Inc has reversed a policy aimed at combating COVID-19 misinformation on the social media platform, increasing the risk of a surge in false claims even as cases rise in China and other parts of the world.
The move also comes amid concerns about Twitter’s ability to combat misinformation after the company laid off roughly half of its workforce, including those involved in content moderation, under new CEO Elon Musk.
“Effective November 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the COVID-19 misleading information policy,” according to an update on its blog page. The update was first reported by CNN on Tuesday.
The specific measures that Twitter will discontinue were not immediately clear, and the company did not respond to a request for additional information.
When COVID first appeared in 2020, Twitter implemented a number of measures, including labels and warning messages on tweets containing disputed information about the health crisis, as well as a framework for users to remove tweets that advanced harmfully false vaccine claims.
Similar measures were implemented by Meta Platforms Inc-owned Facebook and Alphabet Inc-owned YouTube.
Meta sought the advice of its independent oversight board in July on changes to its current approach in light of improved authentic information sources and general awareness of COVID.
Twitter announced earlier this year that it would no longer enforce a “civic integrity policy” related to lies about the 2020 U.S. presidential election beginning in March 2021.
Billionaire Musk purchased Twitter for $44 billion on October 27 and has moved quickly to implement a number of product and staff changes. Musk announced on October 29 that he would form a content moderation council comprised of “widely diverse viewpoints.”
(Adapted from AlJazeera.com)