Twitter Bans Harmful False Claims About COVID-19 Vaccinations

FILE PHOTO: People with cell phones are silhouetted against a background projected with the Twitter logo in this illustration photo taken on September 27, 2013. REUTERS / Kacper Pempel / Illustration

(Reuters) – Twitter Inc said Wednesday it will begin removing false or misleading tweets about COVID-19 vaccinations that could be harmful, including false claims that the vaccines are deliberately harming or controlling the population or appealing do on “an intentional conspiracy”.

Twitter’s policy update, announced in a blog post the same week that the first Americans received COVID-19 vaccines as part of a massive immunization campaign, also said users may need to remove tweets making false claims about the adverse effects of receiving COVID-19 vaccines .

It also bans widespread disinformation about the adverse effects of receiving COVID-19 vaccines. The new policy will take effect next week.

Conspiracy theories and misinformation about the coronavirus and its potential vaccines have spread on social media platforms during the pandemic.

Twitter said it may also place a label or warning on tweets from early next year containing “baseless rumors, disputed claims, as well as incomplete or non-contextual information” about the vaccines.

A Twitter spokeswoman said the company would work with public health partners to determine what vaccine misinformation was harmful enough to warrant removal.

Facebook Inc and YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc, have both announced bans in recent weeks on false claims about the vaccine that go against information from public health experts.

Twitter previously required users to delete tweets containing false or misleading information about the nature of the coronavirus, the efficacy or safety of preventive measures or treatments, official regulations, or the risk of infection or death. The company says it hides such tweets and blocks users from tweeting again until they delete them.

Twitter said it would enforce the updated policy as of Dec. 21 and expand these actions in the weeks that follow.

Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford; Editing by Howard Goller