Twitter Moves to Ban 5G #COVID19 Conspiracy Theories

Twitter has updated its policy on unverified claims in a bid to tackle misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic that has already led to attacks on 5G infrastructure in the UK.

The social network said its updated guidance means that claims which have “the potential to incite people to action, could lead to the destruction or damage of critical infrastructure, or cause widespread panic/social unrest,” are now considered policy violations.

“Examples include, ‘The National Guard just announced that no more shipments of food will be arriving for two months — run to the grocery store ASAP and buy everything’ or ‘5G causes coronavirus — go destroy the cell towers in your neighborhood!’,” it explained in an update this week.

At least 20 5G phone masts have been vandalized across the UK in recent weeks and scores of incidents have been reported where engineers have been confronted by angry members of the public who believe there's a link between the tech and the pandemic, according to reports. Celebrities have reposted the fake news to millions of followers online, further disseminating the falsehoods.

Twitter and Facebook have come in for criticism over recent weeks for failing to act quickly enough in taking unverified rumors about the pandemic down.

Most notably, US President Donald Trump has repeatedly made false claims about the virus, including that it could be treated with an anti-malarial drug, which led to shortages for people who actually needed the medication.

There have also been question marks surrounding Twitter’s use of machine learning algorithms to police content. It admitted in a post last month that mistakes would be made as they are less accurate than human moderators.

Accounts would therefore only be suspended after human review, it said, which could create delays.

Earlier this week an expert claimed that far-right agitators were waging a months-long online campaign of harassment and fake news against high-profile health organizations.

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