Twitter to Study Misinformation by Letting Users Flag Tweets

Twitter is testing a new feature in a few markets that will allow users to flag posts that contain misinformation, similar to how they can already report spam or abuse. The company — which doesn’t have a strong fact-checking unit — plans to use the feature to study misinformation on the platform rather than review the user-identified tweets for legitimacy or respond to the reporting user with updates. Currently, Twitter only fact-checks tweets on elections, COVID-19 and other “select categories.”

Bloomberg reports that, “Twitter may add more categories to the fact-checking operation based on the results of the test, which will run in the U.S., Australia and South Korea.”

The social giant tweeted that although it may not “take action on and cannot respond to each report in the experiment … your input will help us identify trends so that we can improve the speed and scale of our broader misinformation work.” Twitter relies on its internal Trust and Safety Council to review tweets, and it “usually just flags the most egregious or highest-profile offenders.”

Although Twitter’s policing of tweets is less robust than other social media platforms, it has still flagged or temporarily suspended “multiple politicians … for repeated misinformation violations, including former President Donald Trump and most recently U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.”

Twitter is also “building a product called Birdwatch, which will rely on the service’s users to help police content and combat misinformation.” Birdwatch is “just in the testing phase with a small number of users but is part of an effort to scale fact-checking efforts more quickly.”

CNN reports that Twitter’s “initiative is the latest attempt by a social media platform to stem a wave of digital misinformation.” During recent elections and through the COVID-19 pandemic, “social media companies have increasingly come under criticism for facilitating the spread of political [and anti-vaccine] misinformation … even prompt[ing] a public feud between Facebook and the Biden administration, which has accused the platform of allowing misinformation to spread that ultimately harms and kills Americans.”

Related:
Twitter Is Testing a Way to Report Misleading Tweets, CNET, 8/17/21
Twitter Says Taliban Can Stay on Platform if They Obey Rules, New York Post, 8/17/21