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Twitter verifies doctor accounts; revises policy to filter fake COVID-19 content

M3 India Newsdesk May 22, 2020

As a preventive measure, the social media platform started verifying accounts of several health professionals. At the same time, it revised its guidelines to filter out misleading content and introduced labels to mark fake and misleading tweets.

For our comprehensive coverage and latest updates on COVID-19 click here.

All verified accounts on Twitter are marked with a blue tick, which authenticates the user of the account as himself or herself. The badge is mostly given to public figures and popular organisations, but over time it has become highly coveted for social media influencers. The perception of the badge has turned into a sign of pride and its purpose has reduced to attracting more followers instead of assuring the users of an authentic voice.

Amidst the on-going pandemic, when valuable medical advice and official information should get adequate visibility and credit, Twitter witnessed a flood of genuine and unreliable information over tweets. As a preventive measure, the social media platform started verifying accounts of several health professionals and organisations by ascertaining their accounts with the blue tick mark. At the same time, it revised its guidelines to filter out misleading content and introduced labels to mark fake and misleading tweets.

As physicians and healthcare professionals, if you would like to be heard over Twitter, read on to understand how you can get your account verified and what does the platform’s policy change mean for you. Read on to know how you can get Twitter’s blue tick verification badge.

Account verification

Twitter’s recent move of verifying accounts of healthcare experts and authorities was made to give prominence to accounts providing authentic medical information and updates, especially on COVID-19.

Twitter has been working with recognised healthcare organisations to identify experts associated with them. However, for verification, an account needs to have certain information presented as per the rules of the platform. Here are some rules that you need to keep in mind:

  • A user must link a professional or work email ID to his or her Twitter account
  • The bio must include a reference and a link to their professional website or that of the employer
  • If there is a reference of the professional on the company page, a link to the professional’s Twitter account would be an added benefit
  • Lastly, the content published on the user’s Twitter feed must comply with the general rules of the platform

Over and above these criteria, helpful and genuine advice or content on tackling COVID-19 (within the scope of information published by global or local health authorities), can be a means to automatically be in the consideration list for verification of accounts.

Changes in policies

Twitter’s content policy guidelines were revised in March 2020 to address misleading content related to COVID-19 that was being tweeted. The social media platform has collaborated with major global and local authorities to identify fake news and content.

Twitter will now use specific labels for tweets that may appear misleading without complete information or can be misconstrued, leading to an undesired effect on other users. Even older posts will be covered under the revised scope of content guidelines. The labels will be linked to a Twitter page with complete and correct information provided by a trusted external source, so as to prevent any bearings the misleading tweet may have on other users and the society as a whole.

If a user’s tweet with incomplete or fake information seems capable of creating a deep impact on the followers especially, during the on-going pandemic, there may also be warnings issued to such users. The warnings, however, will mean the user has been given a chance to clarify or provide complete information to make their content less harmful or misleading. Such warnings will also alert followers that the published tweet contradicts information provided by health experts.

Twitter has also started proactively monitoring content related to COVID-19, so that any potential disruption that a tweet with fake content can create, can be controlled by reviewing and labelling it.

As a healthcare professional on Twitter, you do not want any badge other than the blue tick. So ensure you tweet reliable content that is also factually accurate or adheres to the latest health guidelines or pandemic-related information published by global or local healthcare institutes.

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