Health stakeholder groups have welcomed a move by Twitter to warn users about potentially misleading information
Twitter has announced that as part of its goal to make it easy to find credible information and limit the spread of potentially misleading and harmful content, it plans to introduce new labels and warning messages.
The social media platform says in its blog that these are aimed at providing “additional context and information on some Tweets containing disputed or misleading information related to COVID-19”.
This followed a move in March broadening policy guidance to address content that goes directly against guidance from authoritative sources on the novel coronavirus, it said.
Such content will be identified using internal systems which proactively monitor content, Twitter says.
“These systems help ensure we’re not amplifying Tweets with these warnings or labels and detecting the high-visibility content quickly.”
PSA national president Dr Chris Freeman said that the organisation “welcomes any measures put in place to stop misleading information going out to the public when it comes to medicines and medicine safety”.
“Throughout the entire COVID-19 pandemic, pharmacists have remained on the front-line providing essential health care advice to patients and they will continue to assist the community as we navigate our way out of the pandemic,” he told the AJP.
“As health care professionals and medicines experts, it is important for the public to ensure they receive the correct information and we advise people to contact your local pharmacy to receive the most up to date and relevant information.
“The dedicated COVID-19 PSA microsite provides pharmacists with all the latest material as it becomes available including links to up-to-date information, guidance and resources from governments and other trusted sources for pharmacists and their patients.
“It is important for all Australians to not take advice from arm-chair epidemiologists and media personalities on social media or in the news and for health specific information utilise the federal and state and territory Departments of Health.”
Recently Australian researchers found that pharmacists were on the frontline of another pandemic, one of medical misinformation and falsified treatments.
The RACGP also welcomed the move by Twitter, saying these measures were needed now more than ever.
“Throughout this pandemic I have been warning Australians to be wary of false or misleading medical ‘advice’ and updates on social media concerning the COVID-19 pandemic and other health issues.
“It’s not uncommon for people to espouse alternative therapies on social media which are not supported by science or the medical community. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has obviously given them an opportunity to dial up their content and alarm an even greater number of already anxious Australians.
“We have had celebrity chef and prominent-anti-vaxxer Pete Evans marketing a ‘BioCharger’ for $15,000 that apparently replicates light, frequencies, harmonics, pulsed electromagnetic fields and voltage to fight off COVID-19.
“Model and businesswoman Miranda Kerr has promoted a ‘Virus Protection’ guide from ‘medical medium’ Anthony William to her 12 million followers on Instagram.
“Not to be outdone former ‘Home and Away’ star Isabel Lucas and retired surfer Taj Burrow have claimed that they simply don’t trust vaccinations.
“It seems like every day we have had another outlandish conspiracy theory or ‘cure’ for COVID-19.”
The RACGP President said that he hoped social media platforms would remain active in targeting content that could jeopardise public health.
“The new measures could not come soon enough.”