Twitter Birdwatch Is a New Tool to Combat Misinformation on the Social Network

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Twitter has confirmed that it is developing a new tool to counter misinformation. Dubbed “Birdwatch”, the new feature could allow users to flag tweets, add notes to explain their suspicion, and fill up a survey form that estimates the tweet’s potential harm and reach. Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane), who was the first to spot the feature in early August, has since shared more screenshots that give a glimpse into how the feature could use crowdsourced data to moderate content on the platform.

Through multiple screenshots on Twitter, Wong on Saturday demonstrated how a “Twitter Community” form was generated when a tweet was “Added to Birdwatch”. The form had multiple questions that would add context to the complaint. Later, Kayvon Beykpour, Product Lead at Twitter and Co-Founder of the live-streaming app, Periscope, which was acquired by Twitter in 2015, confirmed in a reply that he would soon be sharing more on Birdwatch.

Building up to the confirmation from Beykpour, social media consultant Matt Navarra, too, had shared a screenshot last week, which showed a tiny binoculars icon appearing below a tweet that allowed him to access the “Add to Birdwatch” feature.

In her earlier tweet, Wong had also shown how the “Birdwatch” feature would enable users to add notes to the tweet they were flagging. The history of notes on the tweet could then be made available for other user/ moderators to see and vote on.

But the leaks into the working of this misinformation feature leave a lot to be answered. It’s still not clear if the feature will be open to all users, a specific set of fact checkers, or Twitter’s own band of moderators; it is also important to observe how Twitter plans to restrict the potential trolling that this feature could unleash on the platform.


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