The new normal? disinformation and content control on social media during COVID-19

April, 2021

This document addresses the steps that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have taken to contain problematic content related to COVID-19 on their platforms. These rules, usually known as community standards, regulate the moderation actions that these services can take over user content. The main aim of this publication is to understand the impact of COVID-19 on community standards. First, we describe what was the state of the relevant rules before the pandemic. Second, we explain what adjustments these platforms made for organic content. Third, we address the public interest exception that protects posts even if they violate community standards. Fourth, we describe some steps taken in relation to content posted on those services. Finally, we offer a few conclusions.

The observations were made as of December 31st, 2020, and were aided by the monitoring of community standards done by CELE and Linterna Verde through the Letra Chica project. Letra Chica tracks, explains and contextualizes changes to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube’s community standards.