Policy misleading information about COVID-19

Policy regarding misleading information about COVID-19

General information

You may not use Oshinstar services to share false or misleading information about COVID-19 that may cause harm.

While scientific understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic is still developing, we have observed the emergence of persistent conspiracy theories, alarmist rhetoric unsupported by credible research or reporting, and a wide variety of unproven rumors that, if not framed in the proper context, can prevent people from making informed decisions regarding their health, and put individuals, families and communities at risk.

Content that is patently false or misleading, and that may pose a significant risk of harm cannot be shared on Oshinstar. This includes sharing content that may mislead people regarding the nature of the COVID-19 virus; the efficacy or safety of preventive measures, treatments or other precautions to mitigate or treat the disease; official regulations, restrictions or exemptions related to public health announcements; or the prevalence of the virus or the risk of infection or death associated with COVID-19.

What does this policy violate?

For COVID-19 related content to be labeled or removed under this policy, it must:

  • Promote taken-for-granted statements expressed in definitive terms.

  • Be demonstrably false or misleading, according to widely available authoritative sources.

  • Have a high likelihood of affecting public safety or causing serious harm.

This policy addresses five categories of misleading content and behavior:

False or misleading information about the nature of the virus.

We label or will remove false or misleading information about:

  • The transmission of the virus (such as false claims about asymptomatic spread) or how it is transmitted indoors.

  • Susceptibility to the virus, for example, claims that specific groups or individuals are more or less likely to become infected or develop adverse symptoms because of their nationality or religion

  • Symptoms commonly associated with the virus, e.g., misleading instructions on how to self-diagnose.

  • Pandemic or COVID-19 vaccines, in which a deliberate conspiracy of evil or powerful forces is invoked.

False or misleading information about the effectiveness or safety of preventive measures, treatments or other precautions to mitigate or treat disease.

We will label or remove false or misleading information about:

  • The safety or efficacy of treatments or preventive measures that are not approved by health authorities, or that are approved by health authorities but are not safe to administer from home.

  • The sale or facilitation of medications or drugs that require a prescription or medical consultation.

  • The impacts or adverse effects of receiving vaccines, when such claims have been widely discredited.

  • Vaccines and vaccination programs that suggest that COVID-19 vaccines are part of a deliberate or intentional attempt to cause harm or control populations.

We will label or remove false or misleading information about:

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE), such as claims about the effectiveness and safety of face masks in reducing viral spread.

  • Preventive measures such as hand washing, proper hygiene or sanitation methods, or social distancing.

  • Public announcements or mandates at the local or national level related to curfews, confinements, travel restrictions, quarantine protocols, and inoculations, including exemptions from such public announcements or mandates.

  • How official health agencies develop, test and approve vaccines, as well as information on government recommendations.

False or misleading information about the prevalence of the virus or the risk of infection or death.

We will label or remove false or misleading information about:

  • The prevalence of the virus or disease, such as information related to test results, hospitalizations, or death rates.

  • The ability of the public health system to cope with the crisis, such as false information about the availability of personal protective equipment, respirators or physicians, or about hospital capacity.

  • Research findings, such as misrepresentations or unsupported conclusions about statistical data, used to promote a specific narrative that diminishes the importance of the disease.

False or misleading affiliation

You may not create false accounts that misrepresent your affiliation, or share content that falsely represents your affiliation with a physician, official, public health agency or research institution; or falsely suggests any level of expertise in COVID-19 topics.

What does this policy not violate?

We seek to protect a robust public debate about the response to COVID-19, and recognize that the state of scientific knowledge about certain aspects of the pandemic and the public response to it (including vaccine development) is still relatively nascent. Barring other policy noncompliance, the following examples do not generally constitute noncompliance with this policy:

  • Strong commentary, opinion or satire, provided it does not contain false or misleading statements of fact.

  • Counter-narrative. We allow direct responses to misleading information that aim to undermine its impact by correcting records, amplifying credible information, and educating the community at large about the prevalence and dynamics of misleading information.

  • Personal anecdotes or first-person accounts.

  • Public discussion of the advancement of COVID-19 science and research, including discussion of COVID-19-related research, such as the efficacy of treatments and mitigation measures, as long as the claims do not misrepresent research findings.

Who can report violations of this policy?

Rather than using whistleblowing from our service, we enforce this policy by working closely with trusted partners, including various public health authorities, NGOs and governments, and we continue to use and consult information from those sources when reviewing content.

We have a team with open lines of communication with relevant multinational stakeholders, including the World Health Organization, numerous government and public health organizations, and officials around the world, to ensure that you can troubleshoot accounts, verify your experts and seek strategic advice, using the power of Oshinstar to mitigate harm.

What happens if you violate this policy?

The consequences of violating our policy regarding misleading COVID-19 information vary depending on the severity and type of violation, and the violation history of the offending account. In cases where accounts repeatedly violate this policy, we will use a warning system to determine whether further compliance monitoring actions should be considered. We believe this system further helps to reduce the spread of potentially harmful and misleading misinformation on Oshinstar, especially where serious breaches of our rules are involved.

Examples of actions we may take:

Removal of Oshinstar

For high severity violations of this policy, including (1) misleading information related to the nature or treatment of the COVID-19 virus and (2) pandemic or vaccines for COVID-19 alleging a deliberate conspiracy by malicious and/or powerful forces, we will request that you remove this content. In addition, we will block access to your account for a period of time before allowing you to return to Oshinstar. Deletions from Oshinstar if you accumulate 2 warnings.

Blocking and permanent account suspension

If we determine that an account is engaged in promoting a particular misleading narrative (or set of narratives) about COVID-19, this may also be grounds for suspension.

If you believe your account was blocked or suspended in error, you may submit an appeal.

If there are severe or repeated violations of this policy, accounts will be permanently suspended.

Repeated violations of this policy are imposed based on the number of warnings an account has accumulated for violations of this policy:

  • 1 warning: no action at the account level

  • 2 warnings: account blocked for 12 hours

  • 3 warnings: account blocking for 7 days

  • 4 or more warnings: permanent suspension

If you believe your account was blocked or suspended in error, you can submit an appeal.

Additional Resources

Learn more about our compliance monitoring options and our approach to policy development and compliance monitoring.

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