Twitter temporarily blocked fake news websites

Czech and Slovak fake news websites were blocked on Twitter. Users trying to post articles published on fake news websites saw only the warning "this link may be unsafe."

Ria Gehrerová
Ria Gehrerová Denník N, Slovakia
Source: Denník N
Twitter temporarily blocked fake news websites - NewsMavens
Twitter Keyboard, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

In a post-truth world, we are still trying to develop ways to fight fake news. Now it appears we could use the help of social media -- the platform where this "news" is usually shared.

On June 7, Czech media analyst Josef Šlerka tweeted that some Czech and Slovak fake news sites had been banned on Twitter.  

It is the first time a big social media site has blocked such content in Central and Eastern Europe.

This action raises some questions. Should we celebrate the fact that social media is starting to take responsibility for the misinformation which is spread online? Or is this a dangerous precedent? Do we want to give Internet companies total censorship power over the media on their platforms?

Details from the story:

  • Some of the websites that were banned include: Hlavné správy, Zem a vek, and Bádateľ či Aeronet.cz -- a full list of banned sites was compiled by Ondřej Kokeš
  • As Slovakia is not a significant user of Twitter and Czech users access Twitter more often, this ban primarily affected Czech sites. 
  • Users trying to access the link on Android phones or desktops were not able to post it and instead received an "error" warning.
  • iPhone users were warned that the content might not be safe, but could post the link anyway.
  • The Twitter accounts of fake news accounts kept working.
  • A few days later, misinformation websites were allowed again.
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