Twitter launched a fact-checking program on Monday designed to bolster its efforts to combat misleading or inaccurate information by allowing users to operate in a way similar to Wikipedia to flag potentially misleading tweets.
The program called “Birdwatch”, will allow users to discuss and provide context to tweets they believe are misleading or false. The pilot program will first be rolled out as a standalone section of Twitter, for a small, pre-selected set of US-based users during the testing stage
“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.”
While Birdwatch will initially be cordoned off to a separate section of Twitter, the company said “eventually we aim to make notes visible directly on Tweets for the global Twitter audience, when there is consensus from a broad and diverse set of contributors.”
No account or tweet is exempt from being flagged, meaning the users, called the Birdwatchers, will be able to add ‘context’ to tweets posted by anyone, including news outlets, reporters and elected officials.
Twitter, along with other social media companies have been seeking various ways in recent months to combat misinformation. Despite tightened rules and enforcement, falsehoods about the U.S 2020 election and the coronavirus are believed to have continued to spread.
During the piloting stage of the program, the San Francisco-based company said it wants to focus on making the Birdwatch “resistant to manipulation attempts and ensure it is not dominated by a simple majority or biased based on its distribution of contributors.”
Birdwatch will start with 1,000 users in the U.S and gradually expand to other users around the world.
“If we have more applicants than pilot slots, we will randomly admit accounts, prioritizing accounts that tend to follow and engage with different audiences and content than those of existing participants,” Twitter wrote.