Since March 18, Twitter has deleted more than 1,100 misleading and potentially harmful tweets, according tomedia CNET. The move comes after the company launched new guidelines banning the release of content that could increase the spread of new coronaviruses. Twitter also said its automated system has challenged more than 1.5 million accounts that use spam or manipulation to address discussions about COVID-19, a viral respiratory disease. The new figures come as the social media company faces criticism for not doing enough to combat the coronavirus scam.
Twitter declined to provide deleted tweets, but since March 18, it has been deleting content from celebrities, including the presidents of Brazil and Venezuela. On Sunday, the company deleted two tweets from Brazilian President Bosonaro, reportedly including a video of the politician questioning social segregation measures. Last week, the company deleted a tweet from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro suggesting “natural beer” as a potential treatment for coronavirus.
Twitter also deleted a tweet from Rudy Giuliani, a personal lawyer for U.S. President Donald Trump, that spread misinformation about the coronavirus and temporarily locked the lawyer’s account. In his tweet, Giuliani quoted the conservative activist Charlie Kirk, who falsely claimed that “hydroxychloroquine has been shown to be 100% effective against COVID-19.” According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, clinical trials are still needed to prove whether the drug is effective.
Despite efforts to contain misinformation about the coronavirus, some posts containing misleading new coronavirus content still appear on the platform. The New York Times reported in early March that dozens of videos, photos and posts containing coronavirus messages were still popping up on social media. Twitter also allows it to keep tweets about racist and xenophobic remarks about Asians on its website.
The company also retained a tweet from Tesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk that “kids are basically immune” to COVID-19. Children could be infected with the virus, but Twitter didn’t delete Musk’s tweet because the company said what he said was not “certain” enough to be fake.
Under Twitter’s new guidance, the social network bans tweets that violate local and global health authorities’ recommendations, or encourages the use of ineffective or harmful treatments. Some examples provided by Twitter include tweets that say “social alienation is invalid” and “If you hold your breath for 10 seconds, there will be no coronavirus.” The company is cracking down on other types of false information, including the erroneous claim that specific groups such as Asians are more susceptible to COVID-19.