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Twitter Says Will Step Up Fight Against Misinformation With New Policy

Twitter is stepping up its struggle in opposition to misinformation with a brand new coverage cracking down on posts that unfold probably harmful false tales. The change is a part of a broader effort to advertise correct data throughout occasions of battle or disaster.

Starting Thursday, the platform will now not mechanically advocate or emphasise posts that make deceptive claims concerning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, together with materials that mischaracterises situations in battle zones or makes false allegations of warfare crimes or atrocities in opposition to civilians.

Under its new “disaster misinformation coverage,” Twitter will also add warning labels to debunked claims about ongoing humanitarian crises, the San Francisco-based company said. Users won’t be able to like, forward or respond to posts that violate the new rules.

The changes make Twitter the latest social platform to grapple with the misinformation, propaganda, and rumors that have proliferated since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. That misinformation ranges from rumors spread by well-intentioned users to Kremlin propaganda amplified by Russian diplomats or fake accounts and networks linked to Russian intelligence.

“We have seen both sides share information that may be misleading and/or deceptive,” said Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of safety and integrity, who detailed the new policy for reporters. “Our policy doesn’t draw a distinction between the different combatants. Instead, we’re focusing on misinformation that could be dangerous, regardless of where it comes from.”

The new policy will complement existing Twitter rules that prohibit digitally manipulated media, false claims about elections and voting, and health misinformation, including debunked claims about COVID-19 and vaccines.

But it could also clash with the views of Tesla billionaire Elon Musk, who has agreed to pay $44 billion (roughly Rs. 3,41,160 crore) to acquire Twitter with the aim of making it a haven for “free speech.” Musk hasn’t addressed many instances of what that would mean in practice, although he has said that Twitter should only take down posts that violate the law, which taken literally would prevent action against most misinformation, personal attacks and harassment. He has also criticised the algorithms used by Twitter and other social platforms to recommend particular posts to individuals.

The policy was written broadly to cover misinformation during other conflicts, natural disasters, humanitarian crises or “any situation where there’s a widespread threat to health and safety,” Roth said.

Twitter said it will rely on a variety of credible sources to determine when a post is misleading. Those sources will include humanitarian groups, conflict monitors and journalists.

A senior Ukrainian cybersecurity official, Victor Zhora, welcomed Twitter’s new screening policy and said that it’s up to the global community to “find proper approaches to prevent the sowing of misinformation across social networks.”

While the results have been mixed, Twitter’s efforts to address misinformation about the Ukraine conflict exceed those of other platforms that have chosen a more hands-off approach, like Telegram, which is popular in Eastern Europe.

Asked specifically about the Telegram platform, where Russian government disinformation is rampant but Ukraine’s leaders also reaches a wide audience, Zhora said the question was “tricky but very important.” That’s because the kind of misinformation disseminated without constraint on Telegram “to some extent led to this war.”

Since the Russian invasion began in February, social media platforms like Twitter and Meta, the proprietor of Facebook and Instagram, have tried to handle an increase in war-related misinformation by labeling posts from Russian state-controlled media and diplomats. They’ve additionally de-emphasised some materials so it now not turns up in searches or computerized suggestions.

Emerson Brooking, a senior fellow on the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab and skilled on social media and disinformation, stated that the battle in Ukraine exhibits how simply misinformation can unfold on-line throughout battle, and the necessity for platforms to reply.

“This is a conflict that has played out on the Internet, and one that has driven extraordinarily rapid changes in tech policy,” he stated.

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