Twitter to prioritize posts 'with highest potential for harm' for censorship

Twitter to prioritize posts 'with highest potential for harm' for censorship
© DENIS CHARLET/AFP via Getty Images

Twitter said Wednesday it will not tackle all the misinformation on its platform but will instead focus on posts with the “highest potential for harm” as it works to curb false or misleading information from spreading.

The social media giant said it is responding to a survey from last year in which respondents said that “Twitter shouldn’t determine the truthfulness of Tweets” and “Twitter should provide context to help people make up their own minds in cases where the substance of a Tweet is disputed.” 

“Hence, our focus is on providing context, not fact-checking,” the company said. “We are NOT attempting to address all misinformation. Instead, we prioritize based on the highest potential for harm, focusing on manipulated media, civic integrity, and COVID-19. Likelihood, severity and type of potential harm — along with reach and scale — factor into this.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Twitter’s practice of flagging false or misleading posts was thrust into the spotlight last week after it flagged two tweets from President TrumpDonald John TrumpKimberly Guilfoyle reports being asymptomatic and 'feeling really pretty good' after COVID-19 diagnosis Biden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad MORE regarding mail-in voting and later placed a warning on another Trump tweet against demonstrators protesting after George Floyd's death, saying the president violated Twitter’s policy of glorifying violence. 

The labels infuriated Trump, who signed an executive order directing federal agencies to reinterpret Section 230, which provides legal protection to tech companies for what third parties publish on their platforms.

ADVERTISEMENT

Twitter clarified Wednesday that flagged tweets will link to a page that will show “factual statements,” “counterpoint opinions” or “ongoing public conversation around the issue.” The platform said it would focus its efforts on misinformation of “manipulated media, civic integrity, and COVID-19” and that it has already applied the labels to thousands of tweets, primarily those regarding the coronavirus and manipulated media.

“We will continue to be transparent in how we make our decisions and be open with our rationale on how we label certain Tweets. Publicly sharing our work is core to everything we do. If we can’t explain and be confident in our determination, we will not label a Tweet,” the company said.