The move by Amazon.com-owned video streamer Twitch comes as other platform players are also seeking to crackdown on the spread of propaganda and fake news from Russian media outlets.
Twitch says it will ban creators and users who share ‘misinformation’ on or off its platform under new rules. The policy covers lies about COVID-19 vaccines and election fraud, as well as conspiracy theories. It sees these primarily as precautionary measures. For the platform to take action under these rules, channels must meet several criteria, Twitch has just updated its misinformation policies and says it will ban those who frequently share falsehoods.
Under the new rules, the platform will block who it and its partners decide are “harmful misinformation super spreaders who persistently share misinformation on or off of Twitch”.
“Every day, people come together on Twitch to build communities that celebrate a variety of interests, passions, and talents,” Twitch wrote on its blog.
“We’re proud that Twitch can bring people together — but we do not believe that individuals who use online services to spread false, harmful information, have a place in our community. While these individuals are not prevalent on Twitch, they could cause significant harm if allowed on our service.”
The company states that fewer than 100 channels will be affected by the policy at the outset. For the platform to take action under these rules, channels must meet several criteria. “We seek to remove users whose online presence is dedicated to persistently sharing widely disproven and broadly shared harmful misinformation topics,” the policy reads.
The “Harmful Misinformation Actors” rules cover lies about ongoing pandemic; COVID-19 vaccines; and election fraud, as well as other ‘conspiracy theories’. The policy also means that those who peddle “misinformation promoted by conspiracy networks tied to violence and/or promoting violence” or share falsehoods that could put public safety at risk during emergencies risk being booted off of the platform.
Twitch says it will be working with independent experts like the Global Disinformation Index, along with election boards to assess civic misinformation claims, such as election fraud and ballot tampering. Noting the scope for potential content control, an immediate question should be who watches the watchmen?
The Oxford dictionary defines ‘misinformation’ as false or inaccurate information, especially that which is deliberately intended to deceive.
“nuclear matters are often entangled in a web of secrecy and misinformation”
How platform businesses define misinformation and (importantly) intent is vital here. What is genuine information one day, is misinformation the next. We have seen this time and time again over the course of recent world events, especially during the pandemic. Indeed, if the response to the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that “the facts” and “the science” change… and often.
Leading platform players such as Twitter, YouTube, Spotify Technology, Reddit, Meta Platforms and others have sought to limit the spread of content from Russian media outlets such as RT and Sputnik over the last week amid the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Will every geopolitical issue have the same response?
The overriding question is whether this drive to censor is originating from the business for its own financial gain, or whether governments are working with the monopolies in order to control discourse in a way that they are constitutionally barred. If that is the case then it is genuine fascism.
Platforms are either publishers making editorial decisions, or they are technology platforms.
Forget tribal politics and petty “he said, she said” politicking. This is *the* fundamental issue of our time. If we allow our speech and access to the public square to be stymied, we’ll deserve everything that comes next.
The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed this article. Automatic translation from English to a growing list of languages via Google AI Cloud Translation. Reporting and commentary by Rob Phillips.
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