Twitter has suspended its policy against disinformation related to Covid-19

American businessman Elon Musk has taken over Twitter for 44 billion dollars (42.5 billion euros) and is committed to breaking the moderation of content on the social network. After the mass recovery of banned accounts, the billionaire went a step further by stopping the fight against misinformation about Covid-19.

A short press release issued by the American press on Tuesday, November 29 from the San Francisco company confirmed what some have been observing for several days: “As of November 23, 2022, Twitter will no longer have a policy on misinformation related to Covid-19. »

Like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, Twitter had specific rules to combat fake health information during the pandemic. The platform specifically decided to report and delete messages containing misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines, then suspend the relevant accounts after five warnings.

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“We believe this opt-out system will educate the public about our policies and better reduce the spread of potentially harmful or inaccurate information on Twitter.”explained the social network in March 2021.

“Bad News”

But the new head of the platform, Elon Musk, is a supporter of an absolute view of freedom of expression. And he has never hidden his views on the health restrictions imposed during the pandemic, particularly the temporary shutdown of the Tesla factory in California.

“Telling people they can’t leave their homes and if they do they’ll be arrested is fascism. It is not democratic. This is not freedom. Give the people back their damned freedoms”he said during an April 2020 conference call for financial analysts.

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For medical professionals, the change could have consequences that discourage vaccination and hinder other efforts to combat the virus, which is still spreading.

“Bad News”, American epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding wrote about this in his tweet, indicating that the 11,000 accounts suspended by the old policy will soon be reinstated. The American scientist with 717,000 followers urged people not to run away from Twitter and to continue the fight against misinformation about the virus. “Stand up guys, don’t let them! »

Growing numbers

The number of Covid-19 infections in the US was rising on Monday, with 38,800 new cases – fewer than in the winter of 2021-2022, but an underestimate due to a drop in testing, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. .

According to the latest federal daily averages, more than three hundred people in the country die from Covid-19 every day. A fifth of the population has not been vaccinated, most Americans have not received the latest boosters, and many have stopped wearing masks.

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After taking over Twitter, and between the two debacle, Elon Musk has been pushing toxic content — hate speech, misinformation, etc. tried to calm NGOs and advertisers who were afraid of its spread. He reiterated that the rules of the platform have not changed and banned accounts will not be reinstated until a content moderation board is established.

Waste of time: many brands fled and Elon Musk, feeling betrayed, took action. He started a poll on his Twitter account “voice of the people”, and reinstalled former President Donald Trump’s profile — suspended in January 2021 for calling for violence. According to a special Platformer newsletter, the fiery leader asked the engineers who were still working to restore about 62,000 accounts that had been banned for repeated violations.

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Le Monde with AP and AFP

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