Twitter has taken a major step forward in letting users report misleading tweets, and it’s about bloody time.
The company announced that it has been trialing the ability to report tweets flagged with misleading information and that the new feature would be available in Australia, the United States, and South Korea.
As of today, some users in those three countries will be able to use the feature. Here’s how it works: usually, when you report a tweet, you’ll be prompted with choosing why you are reporting it from a list of reasons.
Twitter has now included one that reads “It’s misleading”. When selecting this option, the platform then asks what the content in the tweet is specifically misleading — the options are either politics, health, or “something else”.
“We’re assessing if this is an effective approach so we’re starting small,” a Twitter spokesperson said.
“We may not take action on and cannot respond to each report in the experiment, but your input will help us identify trends so that we can improve the speed and scale of our broader misinformation work.”
We're assessing if this is an effective approach so we’re starting small. We may not take action on and cannot respond to each report in the experiment, but your input will help us identify trends so that we can improve the speed and scale of our broader misinformation work.
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) August 17, 2021
In a time of COVID-19 misinformation, anti-vax influencers, and general political disinformation, this is a huge step for the platform in offering a fair and balanced source of news.
Earlier this year, the platform launched Birdwatch, a community-driven campaign to help moderate misinformation. Twitter VP of product Keith Coleman said at the time:
“We believe this approach has the potential to respond quickly when misleading information spreads, adding context that people trust and find valuable.
“We know there are a number of challenges toward building a community-driven system like this — from making it resistant to manipulation attempts to ensuring 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.”
It’s unclear how this new feature will affect the massive spread of COVID-19 misinformation from bots, but a study suggests that the issue is a bit more complex than merely deleting every AI-controlled Twitter account.