Twitter now bans users from spreading misinformation about coronavirus vaccines


Twitter has launched a new strike system to combat misinformation about coronavirus vaccines. According to the new policy announced in a blog post on Monday, users who repeatedly spread harmful or misleading information about the COVID-19 vaccines may soon be permanently suspended.

Of course, users get some warning shots before they fully boot from Twitter. Accounts that violate Twitter’s COVID-19 policy will be notified first when action is taken against their account, giving them time to reconsider and change their misinformed methods.

“By using the strike system, we want to let people know why certain content is breaking our rules so that they have the opportunity to further consider their behavior and how it affects public conversation,” wrote Twitter.

It’s a pretty optimistic view of the impact of a Twitter ban, but at least it’s something.

According to Twitter, a strike will be registered against an account for its first violation, but no action will be taken against the account. A 12-hour account lock will be applied on the second and third strike. Four strokes hit a suspension of up to seven days, and a fifth hit means it’s goodbye birdie.

It is currently unclear whether strikes will expire or whether they will hang around forever in an account’s dark, shameful past. Mashable has reached out to Twitter for a comment.

Twitter has also announced that it will flag tweets that may contain misleading information about coronavirus vaccines. The social media website has previously used similar labels to display misinformation related to the US presidential election, as well as content that “may have been obtained through hacking”.

These terms are first used by human moderators before they are used to teach Twitter’s automated moderation systems to make such ratings.

“Our goal is to use automated and human reviews to address content that violates our COVID-19 vaccine misinformation rules,” wrote Twitter.

Monday’s announcement isn’t the first step Twitter has taken to prevent anti-Vax rhetoric from spreading on the platform. In May 2019, before the long international coronavirus nightmare began, Twitter introduced in-app messages that direct users to credible public health resources when searching for vaccine-related terms.

With over 500,000 people in America dead from the coronavirus pandemic, preventing the spread of dangerous vaccine misinformation is now more important than ever.