How Twitter Handled Tweets About the Shooting at YouTube HQ

‘Credible information’ was added to Moments

The scene of the crime

Twitter provided some insight as to how it handles tweets related to breaking events, describing its actions during the fatal shooting at YouTube’s headquarters earlier this week.

Vice president of trust and safety Del Harvey revealed in a blog post that there were more than 1.3 million tweets about the attack in San Bruno, Calif., in the first 24 hours after it was reported, adding, “When information from the shooting at YouTube HQ started to appear on Twitter, we saw credible and relevant information from individuals and news organizations. We also saw accounts deliberately sharing deceptive, malicious information, sometimes organizing on other networks to do so.”

Harvey said questions asked in the process of evaluating content on Twitter include:

  • Is the content posted to harass or abuse another person, violating our rules on abusive behavior?
  • Is this meant to incite fear against a protected category, as outlined in our hateful conduct policy?
  • Could misrepresenting someone in this way cause real-world harm to the person who is targeted, per our rules on violent threats?
  • Is this account attempting to manipulate or disrupt the conversation and violating our rules against spam?
  • Can we detect if this account owner has been previously suspended? As outlined in our range of enforcement options, when someone is suspended from Twitter, the former account owner is not allowed to create new accounts.

She added that in the aftermath of the shooting, Twitter “immediately” began requiring account owners to remove tweets that violated its policies, and the social network suspended “hundreds” of accounts for “harassing others or purposely manipulating conversations about the event.”

Meanwhile, “credible information” about the tragedy was available in Moments in 16 countries and five different languages, many within 10 minutes of the initial tweets, Harvey said.

One of the accounts that was spreading false information belonged to a familiar name on these pages, YouTube live video product manager Vadim Lavrusik (former product manager for Facebook Live), but he is not in “Twitter jail,” as his account was hacked during the event.

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