Why Trump’s viral Covid and flu misinformation is hard for Facebook and Twitter to stop

A perfect storm of medical misinformation and political disinformation is creating new challenges for the press, for social media platforms and for the public. Take just the events of the last few days. On the heels of his release from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, President Donald Trump stood on the balcony of the White House, removed his mask and then gave a short speech that was quickly uploaded to social media. “Maybe I’m immune, I don’t know,” he declared. The truth is, he is still very contagious. But the public declaration alarmed scientists, who are working to produce an effective and safe vaccine. Online, fans cheered that Trump had beaten Covid-19, even as he put his staff in danger.

A perfect storm of medical misinformation and political disinformation is creating new challenges for the press, for social media platforms, and for the public.

Trump followed up that appearance

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Twitter tightens limits on candidates ahead of US election

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FILE – In this Feb. 8, 2018, file photo, the logo for Twitter is displayed above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Twitter is imposing new rules, Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, ahead of the U.S. presidential election, prohibiting people, including candidates, from claiming an election win before it is called by either state election officials or two authoritative, national news outlets.

AP

Twitter is imposing tough new rules that restrict candidates from declaring premature victory and tighten its measures against spreading misinformation, calling for political violence and spreading thoughtless commentary in the days leading up to and following the Nov. 3 U.S. election.

The social platform will remove tweets that encourage violence or call for people to interfere with election results. Tweets that falsely claim a candidate has won will be labeled to direct users to the official U.S. election

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Twitter bans calls for polling disruptions and early victory declarations to curb election abuse

Twitter’s moves, like those announced recently by Facebook, are aimed mainly at combating efforts to manipulate the political landscape at critical moments in the hotly contested national vote. The policy changes are the culmination of years of reforms intended to prevent a repeat of 2016′s electoral debacle on social media, when disinformation, false news reports and Russian interference rampaged virtually unchecked across all major platforms.

“Twitter has a critical role to play in protecting the integrity of the election conversation, and we encourage candidates, campaigns, news outlets and voters to use Twitter respectfully and to recognize our collective responsibility to the electorate to guarantee a safe, fair and legitimate democratic process this November,” company officials said in a blog post published at noon Friday. The authors were Vijaya Gadde, the Legal, Policy and Trust & Safety Lead at Twitter, and Kayvon Beykpour, its product lead.

The moves are likely to

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Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis sparks hostile Twitter reaction against Asians

For example, in one since-deleted tweet to her 394,000 followers, pro-Trump former congressional candidate DeAnna Lorraine said that “China must pay for giving Trump COVID,” and swore that “we will have justice.”

Another Twitter user with 114,000 followers blamed Chinese President Xi Jinping for trying to assassinate Trump.

The anti-China rhetoric used by the Trump administration and its supporters throughout the pandemic has left Asian Americans vulnerable to racist attacks, researchers have previously found. Fear, hatred and misinformation online has led to verbal assaults, boycotts of Asian businesses and sometimes violence. A coalition of Asian American groups, along with San Francisco State University, reported this summer that 2,120 hate incidents against Asian Americans have taken place since March.

President Trump has been at the forefront of pushing a narrative that responsibility for the virus lies with China. In the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, Trump said the covid-19 crisis

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Judge Orders Twitter To Unmask FBI Impersonator Who Set Off Seth Rich Conspiracy : NPR

A federal judge has ordered Twitter to reveal account information related to an anonymous user who allegedly peddled a fake FBI report pertaining to the death of Democratic National Committee aide Seth Rich.

Jeff Chiu/AP


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Jeff Chiu/AP

A federal judge has ordered Twitter to reveal account information related to an anonymous user who allegedly peddled a fake FBI report pertaining to the death of Democratic National Committee aide Seth Rich.

Jeff Chiu/AP

A federal judge in California has ordered that Twitter reveal the identity of an anonymous user who allegedly fabricated an FBI document to spread a conspiracy theory about the killing of Seth Rich, the Democratic National Committee staffer who died in 2016.

The ruling could lead to the identification of the person behind the Twitter name @whyspertech. Through that account, the user allegedly provided forged FBI materials to Fox News. The documents falsely linked

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Facebook, Twitter take action over Trump’s misleading COVID-19 posts

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc and Twitter took action on posts from U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday for violating their rules against coronavirus misinformation by suggesting that COVID-19 was just like the flu.

Facebook took the post down but not before it was shared about 26,000 times, data from the company’s metric tool CrowdTangle showed.

“We remove incorrect information about the severity of COVID-19,” a company spokesman told Reuters.

The world’s largest social media company, which exempts politicians from its third-party fact-checking program, has rarely taken action against posts from the Republican U.S. president.

Twitter disabled retweets on a similar tweet from Trump on Tuesday and added a warning label that said it broke its rules on “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19” but that it might be in the public interest for it to remain accessible.

During the 2019-2020 influenza season, the flu was associated with

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Facebook, Twitter block Trump post for spreading COVID-19 misinformation

Facebook
and Twitter
on Tuesday both took action against a post from President Donald Trump that falsely suggested the seasonal flu was more deadly than COVID-19. Facebook removed the post, while Twitter hid the post behind a warning message that says it violated the site’s rules “about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19.” Twitter said the tweet was in the public’s interest, so it’ll remain accessible but engagements will be limited.

Facebook and Twitter both have rules against coronavirus
misinformation that could lead to harm, such as claiming a certain group is immune or promoting drinking bleach as a cure, which can be deadly. Facebook has been under fire for not sending posts from politicians to fact-checkers. Politicians, though, aren’t exempted from the social network’s rules against coronavirus misinformation.

“We remove incorrect information about the severity of COVID-19, and have now removed this post,” a Facebook spokeswoman

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The Technology 202: Trump’s ‘Don’t be afraid of Covid’ post tests Facebook and Twitter

From Lena Wen, a visiting professor at George Washington University and emergency room doctor:

And former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Tom Frieden:

The companies’ hands-off approach to Trump’s posts undermines their longstanding promises to crack down on specific kinds of coronavirus misinformation.

Twitter and Facebook have promised to be vigilant about coronavirus-related posts that could pose a risk to people’s health or well-being. Trump’s posts were viewed by millions on both services, even as users warned they could lead to a false sense of security that might endanger people’s lives. 

Trump’s initial “Don’t be afraid” tweet garnered more than 275,000 retweets and more than 556,000 likes. On Facebook, the post was liked at least 1.2 million times and shared more than 100,000 times. 

Facebook and Instagram’s policies state the companies will remove covid-19 misinformation “that could lead to imminent physical harm.” Twitter meanwhile says it will remove

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