Twitter will require users to remove tweets that could increase the spread of coronavirus

Tweets that violate its rules include those that state, "social distancing is not effective."

Queenie Wong Former Senior Writer
Queenie Wong was a senior writer for CNET News, focusing on social media companies including Facebook's parent company Meta, Twitter and TikTok. Before joining CNET, she worked for The Mercury News in San Jose and the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. A native of Southern California, she took her first journalism class in middle school.
Expertise I've been writing about social media since 2015 but have previously covered politics, crime and education. I also have a degree in studio art. Credentials
  • 2022 Eddie award for consumer analysis
Queenie Wong
2 min read

Twitter is stepping up its efforts to crack down on coronavirus misinformation. 

Graphic by Pixabay/Illustration by CNET

Twitter said Wednesday it will require users to remove tweets that could fuel the spread of the novel coronavirus, a move that could help combat misinformation on the social network. 

Under the new guidance, which takes effect today, the social network will bar tweets that go against the recommendations of local and global health authorities or encourage the use of ineffective or harmful treatments. Some of the examples Twitter provided included tweets that state, "social distancing is not effective" and "if you can hold your breath for 10 seconds, you do not have coronavirus." The company is cracking down on other types of misinformation, including false claims that specific groups and nationalities such as Asians are more susceptible to COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. 

Twitter said that the rules aren't entirely new, but that it's broadening and clarifying its definition of harmful content. The new guidance comes as social networks try to stop the spread of misinformation about the coronavirus. Symptoms of COVID-19 include a cough and shortness of breath. On Wednesday, Facebook said it was creating a new online hub so users can find information about the coronavirus from trustworthy sources. 

It's unclear how well efforts to crack down on misinformation have been working. The New York Times reported earlier this month that dozens of videos, photos and posts that include coronavirus information continue to slip through the cracks on social media. 

Twitter didn't say how many tweets it's removed for coronavirus misinformation. The company has been relying more on automated tools to flag content that violate its rules.