Twitter launches new feature to tackle misinformation

Cheryl Sanders
January 27, 2021

Twitter is enlisting its users to help combat misinformation on its service by flagging and notating misleading and false tweets.

"We're looking for people to test this out in the US-you can add notes with helpful context to Tweets that you think are misleading". Twitter past year started adding labels and warnings about misinformation on the site, including about the COVID-19 pandemic and the US election.

The program, which is specifically created to address specious information that appears on the platform, is available to only 1,000 users in the US right now.

Twitter has struggled to prevent users from posting misinformation and propaganda.

Twitter believes this new approach could help it respond more quickly when misleading information spreads.

The company said it interviewed more than 100 people who told the company that Birdwatch notes helped them to better understand tweets. In a blog post, Twitter revealed that this is a pilot project as of now which has been launched in the USA only. Twitter vice-president Keith Coleman said in a blog post that the move aims "to broaden the range of voices that are part of tackling this problem". However, the company also acknowledges that a community-driven approach for Birdwatch is prone to failures as well, especially when it comes to representation of a particular ideology, political leaning, background, or any other bias.

Coleman pointed out that, being in he first phase of the pilot program, the said notes are "being intentionally" placed on "a separate Birdwatch site" that participants can rate for its "helpfulness" and appropriateness.

"All data contributed to Birdwatch will be publicly available and downloadable in TSV files".

For now, the fact checks will live on a dedicated Birdwatch site, but Twitter says the goal is to eventually integrate them directly into tweets "when there is consensus from a broad and diverse set of contributors". This is supposed to be a complement to the existing system where Twitter removes or labels particularly problematic tweets, rather than a replacement.

The new moderation system is called Birdwatch.

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