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Exclusive: YouTube removed 30,000 videos with COVID misinformation

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YouTube has taken down more than 30,000 videos that made misleading or false claims about COVID-19 vaccines over the last six months, YouTube spokesperson Elena Hernandez said, offering the company’s first release of numbers for such content.

Why it matters: Multiple polls show that roughly 30% of Americans remain hesitant or suspicious of the vaccines, and many of those doubts have been stoked by online falsehoods and conspiracy theories.


What’s happening: Videos spreading misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines are continuing to appear online as more and more Americans get vaccinated.

  • Platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, have rolled out policies to reduce the spread and reach of such content, but it’s an ongoing challenge.

Background: YouTube first started including vaccination misinformation in its COVID-19 medical misinformation policy in October 2020.

  • Since February 2020, YouTube has taken down more than 800,000 videos containing coronavirus misinformation. The videos are first flagged by either the company’s AI systems or human reviewers, then receive another level of review.
  • Videos that violate the vaccine policy, according to YouTube’s rules, are those that contradict expert consensus on the vaccines from health authorities or the World Health Organization.
  • Accounts that violate YouTube’s rules are subject to a “strike” system, which can result in accounts being permanently banned.

Our thought bubble: Platforms are eager to share data about the volume of misinformation they catch, and that transparency is valuable. But the most valuable data would tell us the extent of misinformation that isn’t caught.

Source: https://www.axios.com/youtube-removed-30000-covid19-vaccine-videos-misinformation-a8968086-95a4-4d5e-86da-0e22ddbc1b6a.html
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Ashley Gold

Twitter bans right-wing activist group Project Veritas

8cedc1e0-5bcc-11eb-9fed-2625e2ec6578Twitter has once again taken action against a group for violating its rules, although this time the circumstances are very different. The New York Times and The Verge report that Twitter has banned right-wing activist group Project Veritas for “…

Source: https://www.engadget.com/twitter-bans-project-veritas-171940989.html
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Twitter Blocks Hundreds of Accounts Tied to Protests by Farmers in India

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Twitter has blocked the accounts of at least 500 people and groups involved in the current protests by farmers in India at the request of the Indian government, according to a new report from Bloomberg News. Some of the accounts have even been permanently deleted.

Read more…

Source: https://gizmodo.com/twitter-blocks-hundreds-of-accounts-tied-to-protests-by-1846237031
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Matt Novak

Twitter reveals Birdwatch to allow users to identify potentially misleading information

Twitter is rolling out a new community-based approach to helping control misinformation called Birdwatch. Twitter says the service came as part of its desire to identify misinformation in all circumstances, not just when something receives widespread public attention. Birdwatch will broaden the range of “voices” that can be part of tackling the problem, and Twitter is using a community-driven approach … Continue reading

Source: https://www.slashgear.com/twitter-reveals-birdwatch-to-allow-users-to-identify-potentially-misleading-information-26656670/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Shane McGlaun

Why Twitter banned President Trump

Twitter permanently banned the U.S. president Friday, taking a dramatic step to limit Trump’s ability to communicate with his followers. That decision, made in light of his encouragement for Wednesday’s violent invasion of the U.S. Capitol, might seem sudden for anyone not particularly familiar with his Twitter presence.

In reality, Twitter gave Trump many, many second chances over his four years as president, keeping him on the platform due to the company’s belief that speech by world leaders is in the public interest, even if it breaks the rules.

Now that Trump’s gone for good, we have a pretty interesting glimpse into the policy decision making that led Twitter to bring the hammer down on Friday. The company first announced Trump’s ban in a series of tweets from its @TwitterSafety account but also linked to a blog post detailing its thinking.

In that deep dive, the company explains that it gave Trump one last chance after suspending and then reinstating his account for violations made on Wednesday. But the following day, a pair of tweets the president made pushed him over the line. Twitter said those tweets, pictured below, were not examined on a standalone basis, but rather in the context of his recent behavior and this week’s events.

“… We have determined that these Tweets are in violation of the Glorification of Violence Policy and the user @realDonaldTrump should be immediately permanently suspended from the service,” Twitter wrote.

Screenshot via Twitter

This is how the company explained its reasoning, point by point:

  • “President Trump’s statement that he will not be attending the Inauguration is being received by a number of his supporters as further confirmation that the election was not legitimate and is seen as him disavowing his previous claim made via two Tweets (1, 2) by his Deputy Chief of Staff, Dan Scavino, that there would be an ‘orderly transition’ on January 20th.
  • “The second Tweet may also serve as encouragement to those potentially considering violent acts that the Inauguration would be a ‘safe’ target, as he will not be attending.
  • “The use of the words ‘American Patriots’ to describe some of his supporters is also being interpreted as support for those committing violent acts at the US Capitol.
  • “The mention of his supporters having a ‘GIANT VOICE long into the future’ and that ‘They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!’ is being interpreted as further indication that President Trump does not plan to facilitate an ‘orderly transition’ and instead that he plans to continue to support, empower, and shield those who believe he won the election.
  • “Plans for future armed protests have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021.”

All of that is pretty intuitive, though his most fervent supporters aren’t likely to agree. Ultimately these decisions, as much as they do come down to stated policies, involve a lot of subjective analysis and interpretation. Try as social media companies might to let algorithms make the hard calls for them, the buck stops with a group of humans trying to figure out the best course of action.

Twitter’s explanation here offers a a rare totally transparent glimpse into how social networks decide what stays and what goes. It’s a big move for Twitter — one that many people reasonably believe should have been made months if not years ago — and it’s useful to have what is so often an inscrutable high-level decision making process laid out plainly and publicly for all to see.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/01/08/why-twitter-banned-president-trump/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Taylor Hatmaker

TikTok is back in Pakistan following ban due to ‘unlawful content’

04edbe20-1208-11eb-bdf7-03d6d1390b23Pakistan is removing its ban on TikTok, albeit with conditions. The country’s Telecommunication Authority has cleared the social video app after TikTok promised it would moderate clips in step with Pakistani “societal norms” and laws. People who rout…

Source: https://www.engadget.com/pakistan-lifts-tiktok-ban-131233471.html
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Former Facebook employee exposes its inability to stop misinformation

a34d2e80-180c-11ea-8bdf-45f34cbf9a5eA 6,600-word memo written by fired Facebook data scientist Sophie Zhang shows how widespread political misinformation campaigns are on the platform — and how little the social network is doing about it. According to BuzzFeed News, which has obtained…

Source: https://www.engadget.com/facebook-memo-political-misinformation-053704272.html
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