Twitter admits it went too far with ‘5G causes COVID-19’ fact-check labels

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Coronavirus and 5G are not related.
Coronavirus and 5G are not related.

Image: ROBYN BECK / AFP via Getty Images

By Sasha Lekach

Even Twitter admits it was too heavy-handed with its misinformation labels for posts about COVID-19, especially those about the unproven connection between coronavirus infections and 5G cellular connectivity. 

A Twitter Support thread on Friday explained how back in April the platform started highlighting potentially misleading posts around coronavirus and inaccurate causes of the infectious disease. But Twitter’s efforts might’ve gone too far.

“Not all of those Tweets had potentially misleading content associating COVID-19 and 5G,” Twitter admitted.

To show context about these topics where it’s likely to be useful, we’re building new automated capabilities to apply these labels to Tweets we think could be relevant.

As we improve this process to be more precise, our goal is to show fewer labels on unrelated Tweets. (4/4)

— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) June 26, 2020

The fact-checking measure was getting slapped onto stories and tweets that weren’t full of misinformation, just merely connected or related to the 5G-corona topic. 

SEE ALSO: Twitter updates misinformation rules again to fight 5G coronavirus truthers

So Twitter is promising to improve the automation process for labels and make sure fewer labels are posted on “unrelated” tweets. The thread didn’t go into how it’ll do that exactly, but, say, an article about telecom workers threatened by 5G-corona believers should no longer get flagged as misinformation. Only articles and tweets that perpetuate unsubstantiated claims should get caught in Twitter’s system once it’s updated.

By the way, even with the labeling roll-back, 5G still doesn’t cause coronavirus.

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