Twitter has introduced a feature called Birdwatch, designed to support its efforts to fight false and misleading information. The project, announced in the Twitter blog, allows users in a similar way to Wikipedia to report potentially misleading tweets.
The new system allows users to discuss and provide context for tweets that they believe are false or misleading. Birdwatch is a standalone section of Twitter that will initially only be available to a small circle of users. Priority will not be given to high-ranking users, instead, they will need to use an account associated with a real phone number and email address.
“Birdwatch allows people to identify information in Tweets they believe is misleading or false, and write notes that provide informative context,” Twitter Vice President of Product Keith Coleman wrote in a press release. “We believe this approach has the potential to respond quickly when misleading information spreads, adding context that people trust and find valuable.”
Birdwatch users can report tweets from the drop-down menu directly in the main Twitter interface, but the discussion about the authenticity of the tweet will remain only in the Birdwatch section. Birdwatch members may rate others’ notes as a mechanism to prevent malicious users from playing the system and incorrectly labelling true tweets as fake. These ratings are then collected in a Birdwatch account, separate from the Twitter account, unlike Reddit’s user rating system.
Twitter said it hopes to build a community of “Birdwatchers” that may eventually help moderate and label tweets in its main product, but will not be immediately labelling tweets with Birdwatch suggestions. The company is heavily focused on the threat of “manipulation” by dishonest users who may seek to use the platform as another weapon in online information wars.
“We know there are a number of challenges toward building a community-driven system like this – from making it resistant to manipulation attempts to ensure it isn’t dominated by a simple majority or biased based on its distribution of contributors. We’ll be focused on these things throughout the pilot,” Coleman wrote