Twitter’s new policy on labeling “potentially harmful and misleading content” about coronavirus will not apply to the World Health Organization’s January tweet that stated there was “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission.”
The social media platform announced Monday that it would be labeling and providing context to “some Tweets containing disputed or misleading information related to COVID-19.” Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of site integrity, added in a call with reporters that Twitter could remove tweets if they “directly pose a risk to someone’s health or well-being.”
In its press release, the platform further clarified that the measures would be applied retroactively, and said it would “take action” based on a number of categories, including tweets “confirmed to be false or misleading by subject-matter experts, such as public health authorities,” as well as claims where “the accuracy, truthfulness, or credibility of the claim is contested or unknown” and information “that is unconfirmed at the time it is shared.” It also said it would consult unspecified “trusted partners” to help “identify content that is likely to result in offline harm.”
But when asked if the WHO’s January 14 tweet — which claimed officials had “found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission” — would be clarified, Twitter told National Review that it did not intend to label the tweet. A spokesman also declined to comment on who was involved in Twitter’s list of “trusted partners.”
Multiple reports have detailed how the WHO’s denial of human transmissibility, which cited Chinese officials, was false. A timeline of the Chinese Communist Party’s initial coronavirus response shows that on December 25, Chinese medical staff in two different Wuhan hospitals came down with an unknown virus and were quarantined, while a week later a study found that only 27 of the first 41 cases could be traced to the Huanan seafood market. Additionally, Taiwan has said it warned the WHO and Chinese authorities of potential human transmissibility on December 31, after its doctors learned of mainland cases among medical staff, but was ignored.
The same day of the WHO’s tweet, the head of China’s National Health Commission, Ma Xiaowei, privately warned President Xi Jinping and local health officials that “clustered cases suggest that human-to-human transmission is possible,” after authorities in Thailand discovered the first case reported outside of China on January 13.
Twitter, which in March began tagging posts for misinformation, has previously said that CCP officials who claimed coronavirus originated in the U.S. did not violate its rules and terms of service.