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Twitter says social-distancing will likely mean giving AI much more control over regulating user content

Chris White on March 17, 2020

Twitter said Monday night that social-distancing policies might require the social media company to rely heavily on artificial intelligence to regulate user content.

“To support social distancing and working from home, we need to work differently and rely more on automated systems to help enforce our rules,” Twitter wrote in a statement addressing how the company is preparing to address life in a world with panic over coronavirus.

The company listed what it said are some of the issues users should expect when the reigns are given over to automation.

“We’re working to improve our tech,” the company noted, so “this might result in some mistakes.”

The big tech giant often blames its artificial intelligence system for mistakenly nixing or impacting user content that does not in anyway violate Twitter’s policies.

Twitter suggested in April 2019 that the auto system was partially to blame for the suspension of a pro-life group.“When an account violates the Twitter Rules, the system looks for linked accounts to mitigate things like ban evasion,” a company spokeswoman told the Daily Caller News Foundation in April 2019. “In this case, the account was mistakenly caught in our automated systems for ban evasion.”

The spokeswoman was referring to an account called “Unplanned,” which promoted a movie about a former abortion clinic director who became pro-life. The system is designed to suspend so-called sock-puppet accounts connected to a profile that violated company policies, according to the spokeswoman.

Twitter, meanwhile, is refusing to remove a Chinese official’s tweets suggesting the U.S. Army is responsible for injecting coronavirus into Wuhan, China. A spokesman told the Daily Caller News Foundation on March 13 that the official’s tweets do not violate company policies.

A tweet from Chinese politician Lijian Zhao suggesting the United States is trying to keep secret a plan to inject the virus into China does not violate Twitter rules, the spokesman said.

Twitter revised some of its policies to “protect the public conversation around COVID-19, “according to a March 4 blog post from the company. The update also bans advertisements that “opportunistically use the COVID-19 outbreak to target inappropriate ads.”

Twitter has not replied to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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