Twitter cracks down on COVID vaccine misinformation

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The Twitter logo is seen on a phone in this photo illustration in Washington, DC, on July 10, 2019. (Photo by Alastair Pike / AFP) (Photo credit should read ALASTAIR PIKE/AFP via Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Twitter says it has begun labeling tweets that include misleading information about COVID-19 vaccines and using a “strike system” to eventually remove accounts that repeatedly violate its rules.

The company said Monday that it has started using human reviewers to assess whether tweets violate its policy against COVID vaccine misinformation. Eventually, the work will be done by a combination of humans and automation, it said.

Twitter had already banned some COVID-related misinformation in December, including falsehoods about how the virus spreads, whether masks are effective and the risk of infection and death.

“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,” Twitter said in a blog post Monday.

People with one violation — or strike — will see no action. Two strikes will lead to an account being locked for 12 hours. Five or more will get a user permanently banned from Twitter.

Facebook has also stepped up its vaccine misinformation fight after years of half-hearted enforcement. It announced an expanded policy last month that includes all vaccines — not just those against COVID-19.

San Francisco-based Twitter did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on whether it also plans to include broader anti-vax misinformation in its policies.

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