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Twitter debuts new 'crisis misinformation policy'

Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Twitter rolled out a new global "crisis misinformation policy" on Thursday that the company says will combat misinformation during emergencies and other crisis situations.

In a blog post, Twitter said it will censor posts that spread misinformation by placing a warning notice in front of tweets from high profile accounts that violate the policy. The company aims to slow the spread of "the most visible, misleading content, particularly that which could lead to severe harms."

Judgements on which content is true or false will be made with "verification from multiple credible, publicly available sources," including journalists, non-governmental watchdog groups, and other conflict monitoring groups.

Once Twitter determines that a claim is misleading, it will stop promoting that content in the Home timeline, Search, and Explore features. Examples of content that could be suppressed include false reporting of a major conflict, false allegations related to the use of weapons or war crimes, or false information relating to how the international community responds.

There will be an exception to this policy for commentary, fact-checkers, and people sharing personal accounts of their experience.

"Content moderation is more than just leaving up or taking down content, and we’ve expanded the range of actions we may take to ensure they’re proportionate to the severity of the potential harm," wrote Yoel Roth, the company's head of safety and integrity.

A tweet with content that violates the crisis misinformation policy may be placed behind a warning label that reads: "This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules on sharing false or misleading info that might bring harm to crisis-affected populations. However, to preserve this content for accountability purposes, Twitter has determined this Tweet should remain available."

"We’ve found that not amplifying or recommending certain content, adding context through labels, and in severe cases, disabling engagement with the Tweets, are effective ways to mitigate harm, while still preserving speech and records of critical global events," Roth wrote.

These new standards will be specifically enforced during "emergent global crises," with the first iteration of this policy being activated for the ongoing war in Ukraine. Twitter said it will rely on the United Nations Inter-Agency Standing Committee's emergency response framework and other global humanitarian frameworks to determine when a major crisis is occurring.

The new policy comes as billionaire Elon Musk is attempting to acquire Twitter in a $44 billion deal. Musk, a free speech advocate, has criticized the company's content moderation policies. His deal to buy Twitter has been put on hold pending an investigation of how many fake or spam accounts are on the platform.

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