• December 7, 2021

Twitter will allow users to report misinformation for the first time

Twitter is adding an option for users to report misinformation to the company, but says the expanded ability to flag tweets won’t necessarily lead to more fact-checking or tags on problematic posts.

The test, which is only available in some markets, will allow users to notify the company of alleged misinformation in the same way that they can alert Twitter to spam or abuse. But the social media company, which does not have a robust fact-checking operation, will not review the legitimacy of each identified tweet or respond to users with updates as it does with other types of reports.

Twitter can add more categories to the fact check operation based on the test results, which will run in the US, Australia and South Korea.Credit:AP

Instead, Twitter will use the reports as a way to study misinformation on the platform and identify trends or problem areas to focus on, a spokeswoman said. Twitter only checks tweets from select categories, such as elections and COVID-19, but users can alert the company to any misinformation. Twitter can add more categories to the fact check operation based on the test results, which will run in the US, Australia and South Korea.

“We may not take action and we may not be able to respond to every report of the experiment,” the company tweeted Tuesday from one of its corporate accounts. “But your feedback will help us identify trends so we can improve the speed and scale of our broader disinformation work.”

Social media companies have been criticized for failing to stop the spread of misinformation, especially on topics like COVID-19 and vaccines to combat it. Twitter’s disinformation efforts are more limited than those of competitors, such as Facebook. Unlike Facebook’s army of external fact-checkers, Twitter’s internal Trust & Safety team reviews tweets and typically only flag the most egregious or high-profile criminals.

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However, those efforts can still have an impact. Several politicians have been singled out or temporarily suspended for repeated misinformation breaches, including former President Donald Trump and, most recently, U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.

Twitter is also developing a product called Birdwatch, which will rely on users of the service to help control content and combat misinformation. That product is in the testing phase with a small number of users, but it is part of an effort to scale data verification efforts more quickly. San Francisco-based Twitter has more than 200 million daily users.

Bloomberg

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