Technology

Twitter quietly drops Covid-19 misinformation prevention policy

A note has been added to Twitter's help pages confirming the policy preventing the spread of Covid-19 misinformation is no longer being enforced.

Twitter has quietly ended the enforcement of its policy to stop the spread of Covid-19 misinformation on the site.

The social media platform introduced the policy during the pandemic and used it to remove thousands of misleading tweets as part of efforts to stop the spread of “potentially harmful and misleading information” about Covid-19 and vaccines.

However, a note added to the company’s webpage detailing the policy’s work says that “effective November 23 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the Covid-19 misleading information policy”.

The company did not publicly announce the change.

Technology summit in Dublin
Elon Musk is the new owner and chief executive of Twitter (Brian Lawless/PA)

The move will raise new concerns about Elon Musk’s approach to content moderation at the company since his takeover last month.

Mr Musk has said he believes in “absolute free speech” and wanted to reduce content moderation on the site, something critics warned would lead to a spike in abuse, harassment, and other harmful behaviour.

Since taking over the company, the billionaire has also laid off more than half of the platform’s 7,500 staff, which has increased fears about the firm’s ability to successfully moderate the site with substantially reduced staff numbers.

According to a report from Bloomberg, Mr Musk has dramatically reduced the size of the team devoted to tackling child sexual exploitation on the platform.

The report suggests that the team of specialists that review and escalate reports of child sexual exploitation has more been halved.

Last week, Mr Musk tweeted that “removing child exploitation is priority #1”.

The changes are the latest incidents in Mr Musk’s turbulent reign as Twitter boss.

On Monday, he accused Apple of threatening to remove the platform from its app store and claimed the iPhone maker had halted most of its advertising on Twitter.

He criticised the tech giant over its commission on purchases made through Apple’s App Store, and posted a meme suggesting he was willing to “go to war” over the issue.

A number of companies have paused advertising on Twitter amid concerns about Mr Musk’s content moderation plans.

The new Twitter boss has already begun looking for ways to diversify Twitter’s revenue, which is currently almost entirely dependent on advertising.

Mr Musk is hoping to change this by charging a monthly subscription fee for verified status on the platform through the Twitter Blue service, which initially launched earlier this month before being paused after a number of incidents of bad actors paying for verification and then posing as public figures.