Twitter is rolling out a new societal approach to help control misinformation called Birdwatch. Twitter says the service came about as part of its desire to spot misinformation in all circumstances, not just when something is getting widespread public attention. Birdwatch will expand the range of “voices” that could be part of addressing the problem, and Twitter is using a community-driven approach to do so.
Bird watching It will allow users to mark information in Tweets they think is misleading and write notes to provide informative context. Twitter says it believes the approach can quickly respond to the spread of disinformation and add context that people trust and find viable. The social networks say it plans to eventually make the notes visible directly on tweets for a global Twitter audience when there is consensus from a variety of contributors.
It is unclear exactly how Twitter plans to ensure that the information posted on the website is misleading and not simply unpopular. In the first phase of the Birdwatch experience, the notes are only visible on a separate Birdwatch website. Participants will be able to rate the usefulness of the feedback that other contributors have added.
Twitter intentionally works to keep Birdwatch separate from the standard Twitter feed for now while building the network and gaining trust that produces the context that people find useful. Twitter says the feedback will not have an effect on the way people see the Tweets or system recommendations. Twitter promises Birdwatch will be transparent and publicly available via downloadable TSV files.
Algorithms that power Birdwatch are currently being developed, and Twitter has promised that the code will be made public in the Birdwatch directory. Twitter cautions that the approach can be “messy and sometimes messy,” but says the model is worth a try.