Posts about the Ukraine conflict are now flagged or removed on Twitter when so-called “experts” call them “misinformation.” Once again the usual game when unpleasant opinions and truths are to be censored away…
In recent years, social media giant Twitter has primarily excelled as a censor of conservative views and critical posts related to Covid-19. Now the war in Ukraine is also in the sights of the censors there. The short message service has namely on Thursday Update of its “crisis misinformation policy” released. Accordingly, posts about the Ukraine conflict that meet certain criteria will be tagged with a warning that limits their ability to be seen, shared or liked.
The announcement came just a day after the resignation of the US government’s so-called “disinformation commissioner,” Nina Jankowicz, who had championed the ability to edit other people’s tweets. Public and political pressure on the Biden administration to set up such a “ministry of truth” simply became too great. But who needs such a censorship authority when the social media companies themselves have set up their own “fact checkers” that comply with internal guidelines?
The policy will apply globally and will guide Twitter’s efforts to “highlight credible, authoritative information” and “ensure that viral misinformation is not amplified or endorsed by us in times of crisis.”, said Yoel Roth, head of the company’s security and integrity department. Once there is an indication that something has been posted that is “possibly misleading,” Twitter will flag it and stop promoting or recommending it in the Home timeline, Search, and Explore tabs. Alerts are given priority to “high profile accounts” such as “state-affiliated media”, verified users, and official government accounts. Declaring something as misinformation requires “verification from multiple credible, publicly available sources, including evidence from conflict monitoring groups, humanitarian organizations, open-source investigators, journalists and more,” Roth added.
Roth gave examples “false reporting or incident reports or information that misrepresents conditions on the ground as a conflict develops”false claims of “use of force, encroachment on territorial sovereignty or use of arms” and “proven false or misleading claims of war crimes or mass atrocities against certain population groups” and Falsehoods about “the international community’s response, sanctions, defense measures, or humanitarian measures”. Excluded, however, are “strong comments, debunking or fact-checking efforts, and personal anecdotes or first-hand reports.”
In the coming weeks we will see how much the censorship efforts will affect reporting on Ukraine. The Ukrainian side is already benefiting from the PR work of an Israeli agency that is helping President Zelenskyy sell his cause to the world. At the same time, the Russian side suffers from the fact that their media are censored and blocked in the West, so that many people cannot really compare the information at all. The new Twitter censorship will further exacerbate this imbalance.