Twitter says it's taking steps to curb coronavirus misinformation

It’s a great example for big tech companies across the board.

Smith Collection/Gado/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Twitter announced today that it’s working to “promote constructive engagement” and “highlight credible information” on the coronavirus. According to the company, more than 15 million tweets have already been sent about the topic in the four weeks since the virus’s discovery.

Proactive action is the best action — The spread of false information through social media channels becomes more persistent with each passing day — and it’s up to the leaders of those platforms to fight it. This battle is most evident when the news is shocking: rumors abound, masquerading as truth. Which is why it’s refreshing that Twitter is making concerted moves against misinformation about the coronavirus being posited as truth on the platform.

Twitter has taken similar a similar stance against other misinformation in the past. Now if only all tech companies could follow suit (looking at you, Google).

Search prompts and platform manipulation — Twitter’s campaign against coronavirus misinformation falls into two main categories. The first is fairly abstract: the company has “invested significantly” in keeping a close eye on items trending on Twitter and will continue to ensure there aren’t any coordinated attempts to spread misinformation on a large scale.

The second effort is more concrete from a user standpoint. Twitter is launching a dedicated search prompt to ensure that, when users search for coronavirus, they’re directed to “credible, authoritative” information first. It’s a continuation of Twitter’s #KnowTheFacts search prompt, which was launched last year to fight misinformation about vaccines.

A search for "coronavirus" prompts users to visit the CDC's website.

Twitter is also working with NGOs and governments to ensure information about coronavirus is accurate and up-to-date. Right now these efforts are only launching in 14 countries, though Twitter says it will expand if necessary.