Twitter to address misinformation about the conflict in Ukraine with warning labels

People holding cell phones stand out against a background projected with the Twitter logo in this illustrative photo taken on September 27, 2013. (Reuters / Kacper Pempe)

Twitter Inc TWTR.N it will begin placing warning notices in front of some misleading content regarding the conflict in Ukraine and will limit the spread of debunked claims by humanitarian groups or other credible sources, the social media company said Thursday.

The escalation against disinformation about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation,” is part of a new policy outlining how Twitter will address disinformation during crises.

Social media platforms have faced increasing scrutiny over how they determine and manage disinformation. Twitter agreed to sell itself to Tesla TSLA.O Chief Executive Elon Musk, who said he believes the site should be a free speech platform.

The new alerts will alert users that a tweet has violated Twitter’s rules, but will still allow people to view and comment. The platform will not amplify or recommend such tweets and retweeting will also be disabled.

The approach could be “a more effective way to take action to prevent harm while preserving and protecting the voice on Twitter,” said Yoel Roth, Twitter’s security and integrity officer, during a call with reporters.

The company will prioritize adding labels to misleading tweets from high profile accounts such as verified users or official government profiles. It will also prioritize content that could cause harm to people on the ground.

Twitter said it defines crises as situations where there is a widespread threat to life, limb, health or basic subsistence. He said the policy will initially focus on international armed conflicts, but is also intended for events such as mass shootings or natural disasters.

“Although the chronology of this work began before the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the need for this policy became even clearer as the conflict in Ukraine evolved,” said Roth.

—Reportage of Sheila Dang in Dallas and Elizabeth Culliford in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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