Twitter to deal with misinformation of the Ukraine conflict, including warning labels

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Twitter Inc. will begin issuing warning notices in the face of some misleading content regarding the conflict in Ukraine and will limit the spread of claims denied by humanitarian groups or other credible sources, the social media company said Thursday.

The crackdown on misinformation surrounding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation,” is part of a new policy that explains how Twitter can approach misinformation during a crisis.

Social media platforms have faced increasing scrutiny over how they determine and manage misinformation. Twitter has agreed to sell itself to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who says he believes the site should be a platform for freedom of speech.

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The new alert notifications will alert users that a tweet violates Twitter’s rules, but still allow people to view and comment. The platform will not extend or recommend such tweets and retweeting will also be disabled.

In a call to reporters, Joel Roth, head of security and integrity at Twitter, said the method could be a “more effective way to intervene to prevent harm when it comes to saving and protecting speech on Twitter.”

The company will prioritize adding labels to misleading tweets from high-profile accounts such as verified users or official government profiles. It will also prioritize content that could harm humans on the ground.

Twitter says it defines a crisis as a situation where there are widespread threats to life, physical safety, health or basic living. It says the policy will primarily focus on international armed conflict, but also on incidents such as mass shootings or natural disasters.

“Although the timeline for this work began before the start of the war in Ukraine, the need for this policy came to a clearer focus as the conflict in Ukraine unfolded,” Roth said. (Reporting by Shila Dang in Dallas and Elizabeth Culliford in New York; Editing by Lisa Schumacher)

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