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Twitter will now ban users for spreading coronavirus vaccine misinformation

Twitter will now ban users for spreading coronavirus vaccine misinformation

Twitter has introduced a new strikes system intended to combat coronavirus vaccine misinformation. Under the new policy announced in a blog post on Monday, users who repeatedly spread harmful or misleading information on the COVID-19 vaccines may soon find themselves permanently suspended.

Of course, said users will get a few warning shots before they’re booted off Twitter entirely. Accounts that violate Twitter’s COVID-19 policy will first be notified when action is taken against their account, giving them time to reconsider and change their misinformed ways.

“Through the use of the strike system, we hope to educate people on why certain content breaks our rules so they have the opportunity to further consider their behavior and their impact on the public conversation,” wrote Twitter. Read more…

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Twitter flags Republican leader’s video as ‘manipulated’ for altering disabled activist’s words

Twitter flagged an inflammatory video by House Republican Whip Steve Scalise on Sunday for altering footage of a conversation between progressive activist Ady Barkan and Joe Biden. The video is now labeled as “manipulated media” in a tweet from Scalise, though remains online.

The inflammatory video pulls in out-of-context quotes from a number of Democrats and activists, but appears to have crossed a line by altering Barkan’s words from a portion of the conversation about policing reform. Barkan, who has ALS, speaks with an assistive eye-tracking device.

“These are not my words. I have lost my ability to speak, but not my agency or my thoughts,” Barkan tweeted in response, adding “…You owe the entire disability community an apology.”

.@SteveScalise,

These are not my words.

I have lost my ability to speak, but not my agency or my thoughts.

You and your team have doctored my words for your own political gain.

Please remove this video immediately. You owe the entire disability community an apology. https://t.co/N6G5RgMXlO

— Ady Barkan (@AdyBarkan) August 30, 2020

In the video excerpt, taken from a longer conversation about policing and social services, Barkan appears to say “Do we agree that we can redirect some of the funding for police?” In reality, Barkan interrupted Biden during the conversation to ask “Do we agree that we can redirect some of the funding?”

In the video, Barkan’s altered sentence is followed by a dramatic black background stamped with the words “No police. Mob rule. Total chaos. Coming to a town near you?” Those ominous warnings are followed by a logo for Scalise’s reelection campaign.

The addition of the two words, falsely rendered in Barkan’s voice, don’t significantly change the meaning of his question, but the edit still crossed a line. A Twitter spokesperson confirmed that the tweet violated the company’s policy for “synthetic and manipulated media,” though did not specify which part of the video broke the rules.

The synthetic and manipulated media policy states that Twitter “may label Tweets containing synthetic and manipulated media to help people understand their authenticity and to provide additional context.” In the policy, Twitter explains specifically that “new video frames, overdubbed audio” and other edits count as deceptive and significant manipulation.

Twitter hides Trump tweet behind notice for potentially dissuading people from voting

Twitter flagged one of President Donald Trump’s tweets on Monday, placing it behind a notice that warns users it violates the platform’s rules against dissuading people from voting.

In the tweet, posted on Monday, Trump claimed mail drop boxes are a “voter security disaster” and also said they are “not COVID sanitized.” Twitter’s notice says that the tweet violates its rules about civic and election integrity, but it “determined it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.” Users can still retweet it with comment, but are nor prevented from liking, replying, or retweeting it alone.

Through its Twitter Safety account, the company gave more details, saying that the tweet had been flagged for “making misleading health claims that could potentially dissuade people from participation in voting.” It also cited a section from its Civic Integrity Policy, highlighting a line that forbids users from making “misleading claims about process procedures or techniques which could dissuade people from participating” in elections.

Per our policies, this Tweet will remain on the service given its relevance to ongoing public conversation. Engagements with the Tweet will be limited. People will be able to Retweet with Comment, but not Like, Reply, or Retweet it. pic.twitter.com/USuaRr5ING

— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) August 23, 2020

Mail-in ballots, which are expected to be used more widely by states in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, have become a partisan issue leading up to the November presidential election. Despite what Trump said in his tweet, expert consensus is that mail-in ballots and absentee ballots are both secure. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states COVID-19 is spread mostly through close contact from person to person. Though it is possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or possibly eyes, the CDC says this is “not thought to be main way the virus spreads.”

After years of controversy over how the platform handled the president’s tweets that contained misleading, false, or incendiary statements, Twitter has recently begun taking a harder stance on Trump’s account. In May, Twitter applied fact-check labels about mail-in ballots to two of Trump’s tweets.

Days later, Trump signed an executive order targeting Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives internet companies legal protections that shield them from liability for user-created content while also giving them power to make moderation decisions. The executive order argued that platforms forfeit their rights to legal protection when they moderate content, as Twitter did when it applied fact-check labels to Trump’s tweets.

Though it is not clear if Trump’s executive order is legally enforceable, it may serve to intimidate some platforms. Twitter called the order a “reactionary and politicized approach to a landmark law,” and its actions on Trump’s tweets today may indicate that the company does not see it as a threat.

TechCrunch has contacted the White House and Twitter for comment.

It’s not just you: A Facebook glitch marked authentic coronavirus news as spam

It’s not just you: A Facebook glitch marked authentic coronavirus news as spam

Social platforms and big tech companies have stepped up amid the coronavirus pandemic, moving aggressively to try and combat misinformation and put expert, reliable sources front and center for users. And people have been using Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and various other platforms to share community information, offer help, and shame their peers and parents into social distancing.

But over the past day or so, there was an unexplained spike in removals and flagging of posts relating to the coronavirus and the illness it causes, COVID-19. Users on Facebook and Twitter reported that innocuous, informative, or authentic news posts about the outbreak were being flagged as spam or removed. Read more…

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Twitter places ‘manipulated media’ warning on White House social media director’s Biden tweet

Twitter places 'manipulated media' warning on White House social media director's Biden tweet

Twitter only implemented its new policy against manipulated media on Mar. 5, but it’s already been put to use. 

White House social media director Dan Scavino has become one of the first to be impacted by the new policy after a video of Joe Biden that he tweeted was tagged as manipulated media. 

Last month, Twitter announced it was introducing a rule against “deceptively [sharing] synthetic or manipulated media that are likely to cause harm,” and would be adding warnings to some tweets that contain “synthetic and manipulated media.” Such media has become a worrying issue in political campaigns, with online misinformation a significant concern in recent and upcoming elections. Read more…

More about Twitter, Joe Biden, White House, Misinformation, and 2020 Election

Reddit bests Facebook by rolling out a superior deepfakes policy

Reddit bests Facebook by rolling out a superior deepfakes policy

Reddit and Facebook are two very different social media platforms. As true as that may be, however, it’s difficult not to conclude “shots fired” with the timing of the former’s newest policy.

On Thursday, the popular social news site unveiled a brand new policy meant to curb impersonation and maliciously deceptive media on the platform. 

The new Reddit policy reads as follows:

Basically, Reddit is quashing lies and disinformation on the site. Users cannot try to legitimately pass off as another individual or entity. For example, a user cannot register the username of a celebrity and truly pretend to be that celebrity on the site. While that’s the most weaponized scenario, Reddit is also specific in pointing out forgery and fake articles, and links are covered under this policy too.  Read more…

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