Twitter steps up Ukraine misinformation fight

May 20, 2022 9:30 am

Twitter has said it plans to put misleading tweets from official accounts about the Ukraine war behind warning notices. [Source: BBC]

The change follows heightened scrutiny of the social media platform after the war unleashed a new surge of misinformation, sometimes from government sources.

Twitter has already limited content from more than 300 Russian government accounts, including President Putin.

But it also faces free speech concerns.

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Under the company’s new “crisis” policies, Twitter will prioritise labelling false posts from accounts with wide reach, like state media or official government accounts, while preserving them for “accountability” reasons.

Users will be required to click through the warning notice to view the post and Twitter will disable the ability to like, retweet or share the content.

Twitter said it would also change its search and explore features to avoid amplifying false tweets.

“While this first iteration is focused on international armed conflict, starting with the war in Ukraine, we plan to update and expand the policy to include additional forms of crisis,” Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of security and safety wrote in a blog post announcing the changes.

Twitter said examples of problematic posts included false or misleading allegations of war crimes, false information regarding the international response and false allegations regarding use of force.

The company said it would rely on multiple sources to determine when claims are misleading. Strong commentary and first person accounts are among the types of tweets that would not be challenged by the policy, it said.

Twitter has approved a $44bn takeover by billionaire Elon Musk, who has criticised its content moderation policies

The new policies come just weeks after Twitter’s board agreed to a $44bn (£34.5bn) takeover offer from billionaire businessman Elon Musk, who has called for less moderated speech on the platform.

He has said he would revoke Twitter’s controversial ban of former US President Donald Trump, whom Twitter suspended citing the risk that he would incite further violence.