Birdwatch, a feature that enables a group of users to provide context on Tweets that may contain misleading information, is currently being developed in the pilot program by Twitter.
Contributors to the Twitter Birdwatch pilot program can sign up to join, then create notes to explain why they think a Tweet is misleading, and include correct information according to their knowledge. The general users can then rate the quality of the notes.
Tweets that contain notes would be a part of the Birdwatch Public Log, a separate tab on the Twitter platform. Twitter seems to be passing the baton of handling misleading information on the platform to its users.
The eligibility and criteria for users that would be allowed to provide notes on a Tweet potentially containing misleading information is unspecified as of now. We may expect journalists, government sources, or public officials being prioritized in the Birdwatch program who are enabled to provide notes.
Misleading information is a growing problem and concern that Twitter, along with other social media platforms have not been able to handle, despite several efforts from their end.
The most recent example being the US Elections; social media platforms had prepared for the event with Twiter coming up with labels such as “This claim is disputed” that would redirect a user to a timeline of Tweets from other sources when a Tweet contains potential misinformation.
But fake news and misleading information continued to surface on Twitter and other social media platforms.
With the Birdwatch program, Twitter users would be doing the job that ideally Twitter is responsible for. Harnessing the community as prospective sources of factual information has a volatile success rate, highly dependent on the group of users that would provide notes.
There are several factors that need to be taken into consideration before rolling out the program on a full scale, general users may not be qualified to provide notes, and any news outlets or sources that may have political affiliations or propagandist agendas can harm the objective of this tool that it is designed for.
The pilot program and further development before the full-scale rollout would give a sense of problems that may need to be addressed by Twitter.
Screenshot Credits: Jane Manchun Wong