Twitter is Trying Out a New Feature for Reporting Misinformation
Twitter is almost like a news source for lots of users, and people will seek out what they believe are credible sources for this type of information, and oftentimes there will be users that have a large following that will post exactly what the seekers want to read. Twitter had been called out many a time for supposedly encouraging the spread of disinformation on their platform but now they are bringing in a feature that will allow users to report tweets that contain false facts and/or news. The feature is currently basically in beta and is only being rolled out to a few countries, and Twitter have said that anything that is reported at this point may not lead somewhere, but user input is vital to see where trends are leading and to ensure that accounts that are spreading false information are dealt with promptly.
In 2019, Twitter had added a temporary option for users to report misleading tweets about voting, to ensure elections weren’t affected by social media in Europe and India. Now Covid-19 and the associated vaccines are something that keeps arising in the spread of misinformation, with Facebook relying on fact checking to ensure users get correct information when viewing posts about the topic. Pandemic and election related posts are proving to be difficult to halt the spread of false facts when it comes to social media. This new system will alert the platform to a user, whether a single post or multiple are reported, and help to curb the potentially dangerous misinformation that is being spread. The new feature is being tested in the US, South Korea and Australia and will have a prompt with an option showing “it’s misleading” when a user tries to report a problematic tweet.
A user-driven approach is seemingly the way to go with social media platforms, such as allowing users to report what they deem inappropriate or misleading. The spread and supposed facilitation of such false information has resulted in a public feud between Facebook and the Biden administration, which have also accused the platform of allowing the spread of misinformation which have harmed and lead to even larger feuds that have killed Americans. As social media platforms often are pledging to have free speech allowed, this can be harmful, and users may end up not listening to/reading the facts that are involved with the subject. The new feature for Twitter has been named an “experiment”, and the platform is unsure when it will be rolled out globally, or possibly remove it altogether.
Though Twitter isn’t concerned about abuse of the feature, there is more than likely to be some backlash, regarding the free speech element, and a possibly outcry of censorship, but the spread of misinformation must be stopped somehow. Reported/flagged tweets will be sorted into categories for review, to ensure top priority will be harmful, or potentially dangerous tweets from accounts that have a large following or a sudden mass of engagement. Along with this new test feature, Twitter is introducing a system called Birdwatch. Birdwatch labels itself as a community-driven approach to tackle misinformation online. It will basically be a fact checker, where users will be able to identify misinformation in posts and write informative notes on said tweets. Birdwatch is seeking to be fully transparent, and all data added will be publicly available.
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