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Twitter faces call for more clarity over coronavirus misinformation label plan

The tech giant’s new rules will see a range of labels introduced depending on the severity of the misinformation being shared.

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The Society of Editors has called for more clarity over who will decide what conversations are to be censored (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The Society of Editors has called for more clarity over who will decide what conversations are to be censored (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The Society of Editors has called for more clarity over who will decide what conversations are to be censored (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Twitter is being pushed by one of the UK’s leading media freedom organisations to reveal more detail about who will decide what conversations fall foul of its stricter disinformation labelling strategy.

The Society of Editors (SoE) says it wants greater clarity over the plan, which will see the introduction of labels to warn users when a tweet features disputed or misleading information about coronavirus.

While admitting tech giants face a difficult balancing act, the SoE warns that Twitter’s decision must be handled with caution so as “not to stifle legitimate debate in the process”.

Twitter has said it will handle incidents on a case-by-case basis, using a three-pronged approach to assess the severity and potential risk.

Some tweets will appear alongside a label underneath, containing a link to additional information about the virus.

Meanwhile, other tweets deemed more serious could be covered entirely by a warning label telling users that “some or all of the content shared in this tweet conflicts with guidance from public health experts regarding Covid-19″.

Severe misinformation that poses a high propensity for real world harm will be removed altogether.

Tweets posted before the new rules were announced will also be subject to the same scrutiny.

“No one can doubt this is a huge challenge for the digital giants and the spread of dangerous misinformation must be tackled, but companies like Twitter must be careful not to stifle legitimate debate in the process,” said Ian Murray, executive director of the SoE.

“Mainstream news media in many countries rely on Twitter and other social media sites to alert readers to their articles, which may be tackling issues surrounding Covid-19 where the experts do not agree.

“To remove or place warning on such posts would not be in the public interest.”

PA