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Nov 29, 2022, 12:54pm EST
North America

Twitter ended its COVID-19 misinformation policy. Here are other major changes under Elon Musk.

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The News

Twitter quietly ended its COVID-19 misinformation policy last week, one of the latest changes to the site’s moderation since Elon Musk took over the platform one month ago.

Under Musk, permanently banned users are back on Twitter, and hate speech policies are changing.

Here’s a look at the moderation changes so far.

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Twitter logo and a photo of Elon Musk are displayed through magnifier in this illustration taken October 27, 2022.
REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
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The COVID-19 misinformation policy

Twitter is no longer enforcing its COVID-19 misleading information policy as of Nov. 23, the site said in a note last week.

Under the previous policy, implemented in Jan. 2020, accounts which pushed misleading content about the virus or vaccines would be challenged.

More than 11,000 accounts were suspended under the policy, and 97,000 pieces of content were removed.

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Reversing bans

Under Musk, several permanently banned accounts, as well as restricted accounts have been reinstated.

Most prominently, Musk reversed the permanent ban on former U.S. President Donald Trump’s account after taking a Twitter poll on it. Trump has not started tweeting yet, preferring to use the look-alike site Truth Social, which he helped found.

Right-wing lawmaker Marjorie Taylor Greene, who had been permanently banned for tweeting COVID misinformation, also had her account reinstated.

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Here’s a running list of Twitter accounts that have been reinstated under Musk.

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Hate speech gets "max deboosted"

Users will not be able to find hateful or negative tweets unless they actively “seek it out” under Musk’s new Twitter policy he described as “freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach.”

The offending tweets will be “max deboosted & demonetized,” Musk said.

It’s unclear what exactly constitutes hateful or negative speech. Musk has said the policy would apply on a tweet-by-tweet basis, and would not affect entire accounts.

Tech journalist Dell Cameron outlined in a Twitter thread how the site’s moderation of hateful tweets towards trans users appears to have changed.

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Automating moderation

Earlier this month, The Washington Post reported that Musk is seeking to automate parts of the moderation process, removing the human element which offers some nuance during complicated decisions.

It hasn’t yet been implemented, but a vast number of Twitter’s moderation staff — an estimated 15% — have left the company since Musk’s takeover.

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