Monday, March 23, 2020
#FREESPEECH in the News March 23, 2020
As the Citadel of Free Speech here in Cleveland, we work to protect and promote the basis of our democracy by sharing related stories, commentary, and opinions on free speech in the 21st century. Here's what's making the news – and what you should know about – in the past week.
Twitter says it will remove content that promotes unverified claims and misinformation about coronavirus. It said tweets that could put people at a higher risk of contracting Covid-19 would be banned under the revised safety rules.
This includes unverified claims that specific groups are more susceptible to coronavirus. It also covers denial of expert guidance and unofficial advice about ways to diagnose or treat the virus.
“We will enforce this in close co-ordination with trusted partners, including public health authorities and governments, and continue to use and consult with information from those sources when reviewing content,” Twitter said in a post on its website. Harmful content will be triaged, it added, prioritizing removing tweets that “present the biggest risk of harm”.
Facebook is stepping up its efforts to push out accurate information about the novel coronavirus on its messaging service as concerns about misinformation continue to grow.
On Monday, Facebook Messenger said it's launching a new program to help government health organizations and UN health agencies team up with developers so they can use the social network's messaging service to share accurate information and respond to people's questions. Developers will help these groups for free in the wake of the pandemic.
Hoaxes and conspiracy theories about the coronavirus continue to spread on social networks, including Facebook and Twitter. False claims include that the coronavirus is caused by 5G or that drinking bleach is a cure for the illness. Misinformation has also spread in messaging apps including Facebook-owned WhatsApp, making it harder for social networks to find these type of messages. At the same time, as more people stay at home and practice social distancing, the social network has also seen an uptick in the use of Facebook's services including Messenger.
With over 2 billion users worldwide, WhatsApp is the most widely used instant messaging service around the world. Now, amidst the coronavirus pandemic, where people are practicing social distancing, WhatsApp is more useful than ever in keeping people connected. Unfortunately, the messaging platform is also the breeding ground for fake coronavirus cures and conspiracies which is misleading a large section of users. To battle this, WhatsApp is now testing a feature that will help users verify the information that’s being spread on the platform.
The latest beta version of the Android application now gives users the ability to search a text message or a video message that they’ve received to help get more context and information related to the message. This can be done by tapping a search icon that appears next to forwarded messages.
Clicking on the search icon will simply search for the message on the web and return information related to it. It’s important to know that this new feature won’t categorically verify news for you but will only make the process of verifying information easier.