Twitter will no longer crack down on accounts spreading pandemic-related misinformation. The update was not announced, but posted as a banner on a blog post that outlined strategies the social media platform used to prevent the dissemination of misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Effective November 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the COVID-19 misleading information policy,” the banner read.
These policies, which went into effect in 2020, applied warnings on tweets containing disputed information about COVID-19, removed tweets containing “claims of fact, demonstrably false or misleading, and likely to cause harm” and suspended accounts that continuously broke the rules. According to Twitter, some 11.7 million accounts were challenged and 11,230 accounts were suspended over the policy between January 2020 and September 2022. 
It’s unclear whether Twitter’s new CEO Elon Musk will reinstate those accounts. A self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist,” Musk is in the process of restoring tens of thousands of previously suspended accounts, according to a report from The Verge.
Twitter’s update comes as top disease experts call for more attention to COVID-19. President Joe Biden declared the pandemic “over” in a September interview on 60 minutes. But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC’s Meet the Press on Monday that the the U.S “certainly are still in it,” referring to the pandemic.
“I think the idea that, ‘forget it, this is over’ — it isn’t,” Dr. Fauci said. “We are going into the winter right now. We have the wherewithal to mitigate against another surge. It’s up to us to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
More than 1.07 million people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. alone, and those deaths aren’t subsiding. Some 2,644 people died of COVID-19 during the week of Nov. 23, according to the Centers for Disease Control. 
And in China, officials reported a record high 40,052 infections on Sunday, which dropped slightly by Monday, CNBC reported. Those infections prompted an intensive crackdown due to China’s zero-COVID policy, which requires measures like mass testing, strict lockdowns and quarantines to stave off the spread of even a small quantity of cases. Protests have erupted across China calling out the economic and human toll of the measures at a time when other nations are attempting to live with the virus. A residential building fire that killed 10 has also stoked the anger with protesters questioning whether lockdown-related measures exacerbated the death toll, the Associated Press reported.
Since Musk assumed the top leadership role at Twitter following his $44 billion acquisition of the platform, he’s reinstated controversial figures like Kanye West, whose account was locked after anti-Semitic tweets in October, and former President Donald Trump, who was previously permanently suspended for inciting and glorifying violence. A report from Montclair State University found a surge in hate speech on the platform immediately after the acquisition.