Why it matters: Misinformation on Twitter (or WhatsApp, Facebook, or many other social channels) is a problem that isn’t going away. To combat the spread though, Twitter is developing a new feature that will let users flag-up tweets for moderation. If more context is needed, extra information can be provided in the form of additional notes. This should make it easier for Twitter users to discern between fact and fiction.
Called “Birdwatch,” the new Twitter feature is currently in development and was originally uncovered by reverse-engineer Jane Manchun Wong. When available, users will be able to flag tweets which may include incorrect or inaccurate information for moderation. If necessary, “Birdwatch Notes” will then be added to the tweet, providing further context for Twitter users.
TechCrunch explains that Birdwatch could be open to contributions from members of the public, describing it as a kind of “citizens’ watch” for members of the Twitter community. Social media consultant Matt Navarra more recently found evidence of this in Twitter’s iOS app, although it remains to be seen if there will be restrictions around who can contribute to Birdwatch Notes.
Of course, tweet fact-checking has been at the center of a debate involving none other than U.S. President Donald Trump. After a flurry of tweets where the president criticized mail-in ballots, Twitter added a fact-check alert to a number of the president’s updates. Trump then claimed that Twitter was “interfering with the 2020 presidential election.”
There’s still a lot to learn about Birdwatch—including whether or not it may result in some tweets being outright removed from the platform. While Twitter hasn’t publicly discussed Birdwatch, a spokesperson told TechCrunch that the company is exploring ways to combat the sharing of misinformation.
They added, “Misinformation is a critical issue and we will be testing many different ways to address it.”