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Twitter abandons COVID-19 misinformation rules

Twitter, under new CEO Elon Musk, has updated its website saying it will no longer enforce its COVID-19 misinformation policy. File photo by Joe Marino/UPI
Twitter, under new CEO Elon Musk, has updated its website saying it will no longer enforce its COVID-19 misinformation policy. File photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Twitter has updated its website saying it will no longer police COVID-19 misinformation under Elon Musk, as Twitter's new CEO pushes the platform's commitment to free speech.

Twitter's COVID-19 misinformation page has been updated, without an announcement, with a note saying "effective Nov. 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the COVID-19 misleading information policy."

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Twitter introduced its COVID-19 strike system in March of 2021 to "educate the public on our policies and further reduce the spread of potentially harmful and misleading information on Twitter."

The strike system featured five levels, with an escalating series of locks on a user's Twitter account, beginning with a 12-hour suspension after receiving a second strike.

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Misleading COVID-19 information on Twitter, since the start of the pandemic in 2020, has led to more than 11,000 account suspensions. Currently, Twitter employees are working to restore more than 62,000 suspended accounts, according to technology newsletter Platformer.

In January, Twitter suspended U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's personal account for what the platform called repeated violations of its policies regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Her account was suspended for two years before being restored last week.

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Musk, who bought Twitter for $44 billion last month, has vowed to reduce content moderation on the platform to encourage free speech. While online safety experts have argued that unrestricted free speech on Twitter could lead to more hate speech, harassment and misinformation, Musk promised that Twitter will not become a "hellscape."

RELATED Elon Musk ends Twitter layoffs, starts recruiting new engineers

Since taking over Twitter, Musk has fired thousands of employees, many of whom were responsible for content moderation on the social media platform, while reinstating thousands of accounts that were suspended for violating COVID-19 misinformation and other restrictions.

On Tuesday, a number of medical professionals blasted Musk's decision to stop policing COVID-19 misinformation, saying the move could harm people.

"Nowhere near enough was being done to stamp out medical misinformation on social media previously," Jack Resnick, Jr., president of the American Medical Association, said in a statement. "But this step, along with re-platforming voices who wish to sow confusion and increase mistrust in medicine, will do more harm."

RELATED Twitter lifts ban on Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene

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