Global pandemics have a real knack for grabbing the attention of, well, the globe, and that means that there isn’t much to talk about on social media that isn’t somehow related to COVID-19.
And, when people start getting bored online, they often turn to wild conspiracy theories and misguided research to fill the time. In the case of this coronavirus crisis, we have been inundated with cockamamy hypotheses and absurd ideas about what’s “really going on”. Some of these fictional tales have claimed that 5G cell towers were somehow “activating the virus”, or that Bill Gates had already developed a vaccine and would be using that to inject us with RFID microchips.
For Twitter, an inordinate amount of resources have gone into mitigating the spread of some of this information thus far, but now they’re taking it up a notch.
“Unverified claims that incite people to action, could lead to the destruction or damage of critical infrastructure, or could lead to widespread panic, social unrest, or large-scale disorder, such as ‘The National Guard just announced that no more shipments of food will be arriving for two months — run to the grocery store ASAP and buy everything’ or ‘5G causes coronavirus — go destroy the cell towers in your neighborhood!’”
Twitter did not explain what separates a verified from an unverified claim.
In a tweet from its official account, Twitter also emphasized the danger of damage to “critical 5G infrastructure.” Concern over the alleged effects of 5G cellphone towers has led to some towers being attacked and disabled.
Freedom advocates are likely concerned that Twitter could abuse this directive in the future, particularly in an attempt to remove protest organization information that is clearly protected under the First Amendment.
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