Tweets which promote fake treatments for the coronavirus or deny expert guidance will be marked as harmful and removed, the social network site has said.

On Wednesday, Twitter updated its safety policy to prohibit tweets that provide misinformation regarding Covid-19 and could incite panic or harm efforts to combat the pandemic.

Under the new policy, the company will require users to remove any tweets that deny “expert guidance,” promote “fake or ineffective treatments,” or share “misleading content purporting to be from experts or authorities.”

In a blog post on its website, Twitter said: “We will enforce this in close coordination with trusted partners, including public health authorities and governments, and continue to use and consult with information from those sources when reviewing content.”

Twitter detailed a number of examples of the kinds of tweets that would be removed under the new rules, including the claim that social distancing is not effective and that walking outside is enough to disinfect you.

The new policy also bans tweets that claim the coronavirus does not infect children, that the news about washing your hands is propaganda for soap companies and that using essential oils will prevent the spread.

Also covered in the guidelines are “specific and unverified claims that incite people to action and cause widespread panic, social unrest or large-scale disorder,” as well as “specific and unverified claims made by people impersonating a government or health official or organisation.”

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The company added it would also consider removing tweets shared from parody accounts or “made in jest”.

“The crackdown arrives as social media platforms have come under pressure to take a more aggressive stance on coronavirus misinformation,” the blog post read.

“As we’ve said on many occasions, our approach to protecting the public conversation is never static. That’s particularly relevant in these unprecedented times. We intend to review our thinking daily and will ensure we’re sharing updates here on any new clarifications to our rules or major changes to how we’re enforcing them.”

The move follows an announcement from technology companies Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit and YouTube earlier this week in which they committed to work together and with governments in response to the pandemic.

In a joint statement, the organisations said they would work to ensure people could stay connected to each other during isolation as well as fight any misinformation and fraud linked to the outbreak.

“We are working closely together on Covid-19 response efforts,” the statement said.

“We’re helping millions of people stay connected while also jointly combating fraud and misinformation about the virus, elevating authoritative content on our platforms, and sharing critical updates in co-ordination with government healthcare agencies around the world.”



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