Twitter’s COVID-19 Fake News Filter Is So Buggy, It’s The Stuff Of Memes

Image via Forstock /

After years of criticism for not monitoring abusive or deceiving posts, Twitter finally got applauded for introducing filters that even dragged the president. The algorithm isn’t perfect, though. In fact, it is so easy to manipulate that it became the unwitting inspiration for memes.

VICE reported that last Friday morning, the social network began accompanying every tweet that mentioned both “5G” and “oxygen” with a COVID-19 misinformation warning.

The terms were flagged due to conspiracy theories that claim 5G as the culprit behind the spread of the novel coronavirus, leading Twitter to start weeding out posts discussing the taking down of 5G cell towers and sharing of unproven COVID-19 cures. Suspected tweets also arrived with a link directing users to a page for more credible information about the virus.

Despite being created out of good intentions, the filter turned out to be broken, so every tweet citing “5G” and “oxygen” came with the label.

Twitter users thus began tossing the words about in tweets that were totally out of context. “My favorite Die Hard movie scene is when they are in the park and they have a 5g jug and a 3g jug, and need to reach 4g of water, leaving 1g of oxygen,” one user joked.

“Did you know? A typical leaf from a houseplant produces about 5g of oxygen per hour,” another teased.

Since then, Twitter has apologized for the “confusion” and says it will work on refining its content filtering process.

Screenshot via @Akfamilyhome to include the misinformation warning

my favorite die hard movie scene is when they are in the park and they have a 5g jug and a 3g jug, and need to reach 4g of water, leaving 1g of oxygen or the bomb would go off

— nostraporkus the sweat seer (@porksweats1) June 26, 2020

5G is a new type of oxygen that lets your brain go super fast

— Edward Ongweso Jr (@bigblackjacobin) June 26, 2020

we smokin 5g oxygen yall still on that reggie air

— Trey Smith (@SlimiHendrix) June 26, 2020

Twitter fact checking @AStrongerOZ I thought they’d have better things to do
How are the 5g towers today ?

— Anthony The Colonial (@Boldsilver99) June 26, 2020

In the last few weeks, you may have seen Tweets with labels linking to additional info about COVID-19. Not all of those Tweets had potentially misleading content associating COVID-19 and 5G. We apologize for any confusion and we're working to improve our labeling process. (1/4)

— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) June 26, 2020

[via VICE, cover image via Forstock /]

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