Twitter Launches Birdwatch, A Wikipedia-Style Approach To Fight Misinformation

In a significant attempt to manage how it moderates content, Twitter has unveiled “Birdwatch”, a pilot program to crowdsource fact-checks to combat misinformation.

Birdwatch will allow regular users, called “Birdwatchers,” to identify tweets they think have misinformation and write notes with more information and context, which is similar to Wikipedia, where registered volunteers write, update and edit articles for accuracy.

Anyone can apply to be a Birdwatcher, and the only requirements are a valid phone number, email and no recent violations of Twitter’s rules.

Birdwatch notes will appear beneath a tweet. Birdwatchers will be able to rate the effectiveness of each note, impacting the note’s ranking.

The program is currently a pilot, and is only available through a separate website but the plan is to eventually roll out to the rest of Twitter.

During the pilot, Twitter said it wants to focus on making Birdwatch “resistant to manipulation attempts and ensure “it isn’t dominated by a simple majority or biased based on its distribution of contributors.”

 Twitter has long been under pressure to prevent misinformation from spreading on its platform. It wasn’t until this year that the company took more aggressive action when they started fact checking tweets from former president Donald Trump and other politicians about Covid-19, mail-in voting and the election results. Those labels linked to news organizations or other institutions offering credible information. The social network eventually banned Trump entirely, citing tweets that could incite more violence following the Capitol riot. The intention of Birdwatch, though, is to expand those efforts beyond “circumstances where something breaks our rules or receives widespread public attention,” Coleman said.

Adapted from article in Forbes Magazine by Rachel Sandler

Post by Marc