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Twitter will force users to delete COVID-19 vaccine conspiracy theories

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With COVID-19 vaccinations just beginning, Twitter will ramp up its efforts to tamp down conspiracy theories that might discourage people from getting the vaccine.

The newly expanded rules apply to debunked information about the adverse effects of getting vaccinated, misleading tweets claiming the vaccine is not necessary and conspiracies that claim COVID-19 vaccines are used to “intentionally cause harm to or control populations.” Twitter’s updated policy will go into effect on December 21.

Twitter will require users who tweet something that falls in one of those categories to delete the content before being allowed to tweet again. Addressing vaccine misinformation that doesn’t meet the threshold for removal, Twitter says that it will begin placing warning labels on “unsubstantiated rumors, disputed claims, as well as incomplete or out-of-context information about vaccines” starting in early 2021. Those tweets may also be hidden, have their engagement limited and be accompanied by public health information labels.

The company said that it will prioritize removing misinformation with the greatest potential to do harm, and we’ve asked Twitter if that decision is made based on how much exposure a tweet is getting or the nature of its content. The new policies will be enforced through a hybrid approach of automation and human moderation.

Early in the pandemic, Twitter created a set of new content policies specific to COVID-19 misinformation, which was just beginning to take off. While bogus and potentially harmful misinformation about how the virus was transmitted were the big worries then, the company’s new policy update will address concerns that online misinformation might lead a significant portion of the population to refuse to get vaccinated.

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Having granular misinformation policies on the books is useful for future enforcement, but new rules aren’t worth anything if they aren’t enforced. We’ll be following misinformation around the COVID-19 vaccine as it becomes more widely available and keeping an eye out for how Twitter implements its latest effort to give conspiracies less oxygen on the platform.

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Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

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But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

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One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

[embedded content]

Searchenginejournal.com

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