Ukraine conflict posts will be tagged or removed if ‘experts’ call them ‘disinformation’
Twitter has rolled out an update to its “crisis misinformation policy” Thursday, saying it will put a warning label on posts about the conflict in Ukraine that meet certain criteria, limiting their ability to be seen, shared or liked. The announcement comes just a day after the resignation of the US government “disinformation czar” Nina Jankowicz, who had advocated for the ability to edit other people’s tweets.
The policy will be applied globally and will guide Twitter’s efforts to “raise credible and authoritative information”, and “help ensure viral misinformation is not amplified or advocated by us during crises,” mentioned Yoel Roth, Corporate Security and Integrity Manager.
As soon as there is evidence that something has been published “may be misleading” Twitter will tag it with a review and won’t amplify or recommend it in the Home, Search, and Explore tabs. Warnings will take priority for “high-level accounts” such as those designated “state-affiliated media”, verified users and official government accounts.
Declaring something misinformation will require “verification from multiple credible and publicly available sources, including evidence from conflict monitoring groups, humanitarian organizations, open source investigators, journalists, etc. Roth added.
As examples, Roth cited “false coverage or reporting of events, or information that distorts conditions on the ground as a conflict evolves”, false claims about “use of force, incursions on territorial sovereignty, or around the use of weapons”, as well as “patently false or misleading allegations of war crimes or mass atrocities against specific populations” and the lies about “response of the international community, sanctions, defensive actions or humanitarian operations”.
However, “strong commentary, efforts to debunk or verify facts, and personal anecdotes or first-person accounts” will be exempt.
Of the society Help Center on politics distills the definitions even further, making it clear that Twitter will pursue posts that have “the capacity” for “serve as a pretext for new attacks” or “cause an increase in humanitarian needs”, disrupt ceasefire talks or “incite targeting or surveillance” groups based on political, religious, ethnic or ideological affiliation or affiliation, or protected by international humanitarian law.
To be tagged, a post must state an allegation or fact “expressed in definitive terms”, be “manifestly false or misleading, based on widely available and authoritative sources” and “be likely to affect public safety or cause serious harm”, according to Twitter.
The policy is centered on “international armed conflict” like Ukraine, but Twitter plans to update it and expand it to any crisis as defined by the UN, Roth explained.
In October 2020, Twitter infamously locked the New York Post’s account over a story of a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden, whose father Joe ran for president as a Democrat. The platform first cited its “pirated material” politics, then promoted the claim that history was “Russian Disinformation” neither turned out to be true.
Although nominally unbiased, Twitter has not verified or disputed the Kyiv government’s claims, including outright lies such as the “The Ghost of Kyiv” aerial ace or the story of “Snake Island 13.” However, days after the escalation of hostilities in Ukraine, the platform blocked advertising from Russia and has since vaunted on reducing tagged content “Affiliated with the Russian stateby 30%, while cutting Russian government account impressions and engagement in half.
Twitter’s new policy comes amid uncertainty over billionaire Elon Musk’s bid to buy the company and take it private. While Twitter accepted Musk’s $44 billion offer, it is now challenging their public documents citing the number of bots and fake accounts. The SpaceX and Tesla founder sent satellite technology to the Ukrainian military, but also spoke out against censorship on Twitter and said he wanted to ensure free speech on the platform.