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In the desperate fight against the novel coronavirus, social media platforms have achieved an important victory: they have helped limit the dissemination of life-threatening misinformation that could worsen the pandemic. But this success should not cause us to adopt a similar approach to political speech, where greater caution is required. 

Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have each moved quickly to remove coronavirus misinformation that encourages people to take actions that could put them at risk. Google is privileging information from official health agencies, such as the World Health Organization, and has established a 24-hour incident-response team that removes misinformation from search results and YouTube. Facebook’s WhatsApp has teamed up with the WHO to provide a messaging service that offers real-time updates.

Misinformation, rumors, myths, and conspiracy theories still slip through the net, of course, and new threats may yet emerge—for instance, Russia is taking a page from its 2016 playbook

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