Twitter announced that harmful claims linking COVID-19 and 5G and incite people to damage property and cause harm will be taken down from the platform. The announcement is Twitter’s latest move to strengthen its guidance on unverified and harmful claims circulating in its platform. However, a company spokesperson assured that not all 5G conspiracy tweets will be deleted – only those that will prove to be harmful towards people and property.
“Unverified claims that incite people to action, could lead to the destruction or damage of critical infrastructure, or could lead to widespread panic, social unrest, or large-scale disorder” Twitter explains in a post. The platform also cited examples such as “The National Guard just announced that no more shipments of food will be arriving for two months — run to the grocery store ASAP and buy everything.” An even more harmful example is “5G causes coronavirus — go destroy the cell towers in your neighborhood!”
Harmful tweets like the second example above have resulted in the vandalism and destruction of property, most notably in the UK where conspiracy theorists set 50 fires that targeted 5G cell towers. Twitter says that, since the update, more than 2,200 tweets have been removed from the platform. Its automated systems have also targeted more than 3.4 million accounts that targeted COVID-19 discussions but have spammy or manipulative behaviors.