Twitter to Penalize Users Who Claim Vaccinated People Can Spread Covid-19

Twitter Josh Edelson/Getty Images

Josh Edelson/Getty Images

Twitter will begin imposing penalties on users who claim that vaccinated people can spread Covid-19, according to a change quietly added to the website’s terms of service.

“When tweets include misleading information about Covid-19, we may place a label on those tweets that includes corrective information about that claim,” the website notes in a section detailing its rules about Covid-19 misinformation. “We may apply labels to tweets that contain, for example… false or misleading claims that people who have received the vaccine can spread or shed the virus (or symptoms, or immunity) to unvaccinated people.”

Users can receive penalties up to a permanent ban.

The change was made on Dec. 2, according to Wayback Machine archives retrieved by Reclaim the Net. The policy contradicts the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, which notes the “risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection in fully vaccinated people cannot be completely eliminated as long as there is continued community transmission of the virus.”

The CDC adds:

Early data suggest infections in fully vaccinated persons are more commonly observed with the Delta variant than with other SARS-CoV-2 variants. However, data show fully vaccinated persons are less likely than unvaccinated persons to acquire SARS-CoV-2, and infections with the Delta variant in fully vaccinated persons are associated with less severe clinical outcomes. Infections with the Delta variant in vaccinated persons potentially have reduced transmissibility than infections in unvaccinated persons, although additional studies are needed.

Penalties range from a 12-hour account lock after the second strike, and a permanent suspension — or ban — on the fifth strike.

Twitter’s new guidance comes two weeks after former CEO Jack Dorsey’s Nov. 29 announcement that he was stepping down to focus on cryptocurrency, leaving Parag Agrawal as his successor. Agrawal raised eyebrows among critics a day after his ascension with another sweeping change to the rules.

Per that policy:

Sharing personal media, such as images or videos, can potentially violate a person’s privacy, and may lead to emotional or physical harm. The misuse of private media can affect everyone, but can have a disproportionate effect on women, activists, dissidents, and members of minority communities. When we receive a report that a Tweet contains unauthorized private media, we will now take action in line with our range of enforcement options.

12/15/21 UPDATE: After the publication of this story, Twitter amended the language in its terms, which originally promised penalties for those who claimed patients who had “received the vaccine can spread or shed the virus.”

The revision changed an instance of the word “virus” to “vaccine.” As a result, the latest edition of the terms assert, the company will target users who spread claims that patients “who have received the vaccine can spread or shed the vaccine … to unvaccinated people.”

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