Twitter has published what it calls a “crisis misinformation policy” announcing that it will be actively reducing the visibility of content found to be false which pertains to “situations of armed conflict, public health emergencies, and large-scale natural disasters.”
If you’ve been paying attention to the dramatic escalations in online censorship we’ve been seeing in 2022, it will not surprise you to learn that the Ukraine war is the first crisis to which this new censorship policy will be applied.
Twitter says that it “won’t amplify or recommend content” found to violate its new policy, and will also attach warning labels to individual tweets and even hide offending content behind a warning label and disable the retweet function on particularly naughty posts.
The problem here is of course the question of how to impartially establish whether something is objectively false without it turning into at best a flawed system guided by fallible human biases and perceptual filters and at worst a powerful institution shutting down unauthorized speech. Twitter says it formed its new policy with input from unnamed “global experts and human rights organizations,” and will be enforcing it with the help of “conflict monitoring groups, humanitarian organizations, open-source investigators, journalists, and more.” This will come as no comfort to anyone who’s familiar with the history of propaganda peddling that can be found in every single one of those respective categories.