Twitter drops COVID misinformation policy as hospitalizations rise

As Twitter announced it is no longer enforcing its policy targeting misleading COVID information, cases and hospitalizations are on the rise.

Bay Area hospitalizations have spiked to at least 630, the highest since August, state data shows.

"With COVID, it’s the gift that keeps on giving, given the presence of so many different variants," UCSF infectious disease expert Dr. Peter Chin-Hong said. "Misinformation has a direct link to deaths."

Twitter’s decision to stop enforcing its policy against false COVID information was made last week but only discovered by users Monday.

It means tweets will no longer be flagged if they contain misleading information related to COVID-19.

"Twitter is not the place to go to learn about COVID or COVID vaccine," Solano County Health Officer Bela Matyas said. "We have a lot of websites that are official."

Matyas said the county will continue to use Twitter as a communications tool to direct people where facts can be found.

Marin County and San Mateo County health departments said they will continue sharing critical and timely health information on the social media platform.

Napa County said it has never used Twitter for public health outreach and has no plans to. Other Bay Area counties did not immediately respond.

The tech company previously suspended thousands of accounts spreading falsehoods and removed misleading posts.

"There is value to having available competing schools of thought," Matyas said. "People have to be wise enough to know truth from fiction."

But with so much noise on Twitter, it may be tough to research and separate right from wrong.

Chin-Hong said by not enforcing the policy, there may be an increase of distrust in science and healthcare information.

"I’m very, very disappointed and a little bit frightened," he said. "If you don’t take an intervention like vaccines that can save lives, then you add to the numbers. We still have more than 300 people dying a day."

Roughly 90% of the deaths right now are people over age 65, Chin-Hong said.

Health experts agree that as immunity wanes and holiday gatherings grow, the need for a vaccine or booster is critical.

State data shows as of Wednesday, 3,700 people are hospitalized with the coronavirus in California.

Brooks Jarosz is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email him at and follow him on Facebook and Twitter @BrooksKTVU