Social media giant Twitter has announced a new feature called “Birdwatch” which aims to encourage users to police and flag each other’s tweets if they believe they spread misinformation. The company claims it wants to “broaden the range of voices” fighting against misinformation, but the feature has the potential to devolve into flagging wars between different factions of users.
In a recent blog post, Twitter announced a new feature on its site called “Birdwatch,” which allows users to add notes with “helpful context” to tweets that they believe are misleading. To participate, users must have certain information on file with Twitter such as their phone number, ostensibly to prove the account belongs to a real person.
The company posted an animated video with a brief example of the feature which can be seen below:
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) January 25, 2021
Twitter stated in the blog post that it wants to apply labels and context to Tweets but doesn’t want to “limit efforts to circumstances where something breaks our rules or receives widespread public attention.” The company also said that it wants to “broaden the range of voices” that are tackling misinformation.
The company explained how the feature will work, writing:
Birdwatch allows people to identify information in Tweets they believe is misleading and write notes that provide informative context. We believe this approach has the potential to respond quickly when misleading information spreads, adding context that people trust and find valuable. Eventually we aim to make notes visible directly on Tweets for the global Twitter audience, when there is consensus from a broad and diverse set of contributors.
In this first phase of the pilot, notes will only be visible on a separate Birdwatch site. On this site, pilot participants can also rate the helpfulness of notes added by other contributors. These notes are being intentionally kept separate from Twitter for now, while we build Birdwatch and gain confidence that it produces context people find helpful and appropriate. Additionally, notes will not have an effect on the way people see Tweets or our system recommendations.
Twitter stated that it has conducted “more than 100 qualitative interviews with individuals across the political spectrum who use Twitter,” and has received “broad general support” for the Birdwatch program.
The company stated that all data contributed to Birdwatch will be available to download and that it will update a public “Birdwatch Guide” that users can review. Twitter also stated that it’s embedding a member of the University of Chicago’s Center for RISC on the Birdwatch team.
The blog post ends stating:
We know this might be messy and have problems at times, but we believe this is a model worth trying. We invite you to learn alongside as we continue to explore different ways of addressing a common problem. Follow @Birdwatch for the latest updates and to provide feedback on how we are doing.
In recent months Twitter has taken increasingly active steps to censor former President Donald Trump and has since permanently suspended him from the platform.
In a recent article discussing Twitter’s suspension of President Trump, Breitbart News reported that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was relaxing on a private island in French Polynesia when he received a phone call on January 6 from Twitter’s top lawyer and safety expert Vijaya Gadde, the notorious leftist who previously appeared alongside Dorsey on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast.
Gadde informed Dorsey that Twitter had suspended President Trump’s account temporarily to prevent him from posting further statements relating to the U.S. Capitol protests that could incite violence. Dorsey was reportedly concerned about the decision but he had delegated moderation decisions to Gadde and generally deferred to her on account suspensions and did so again.
The New York Times recently reported that Twitter employees gathered in a virtual meeting to discuss the decision to remove President Trump from the platform, many were grateful that Twitter had taken action while others simply wanted to leave the “Trump era” behind, but many were very emotional over the situation and cried.
Read more at Breitbart News here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address firstname.lastname@example.org