Twitter is launching its misinformation patrol. The social network has just set up Birdwatch, its army of little birds on the lookout for "fake news." The idea behind it is simple -- give more context to internet users so that they better understand a tweet. But in concrete terms, how does it work?
There is strength in numbers for Twitter . The social network plans to rely on the help of the users of its service to deploy Birdwatch, its new system to fight misinformation.
Users will judge the usefulness of a Birdwatch note
For the moment, this service is still in a test phase with just a few selected users. These are the only individuals who can use this tool, both on the application under iOS or Android and via the web version of the social network, Twitter has outlined. There is no indication whether this test is exclusively for American users or is being deployed globally. According to the link to the Birdwatch site, this service is only available in the United States currently.
With Birdwatch, Twitter wants to give "more context" to certain tweets that could be misleading or misinterpreted. Participants will be able to add notes to tweets that they deem inaccurate or even completely false, explaining and giving links to better understand the information given.
It is the users who will judge whether or not these explanations are useful for understanding the tweet. Twitter has indicated that the notes considered to be the most useful will be displayed just below the original tweet to reach even more users. If a tweet contains multiple "Birdwatch" notes, then the platform will display them at regular intervals in turn. However, if a tweet does not display any "Birdwatch" notes that are considered useful, users will still be able to click on the Birdwatch icon to discover the notes written about the tweet.
While Twitter claims to want to fight against misleading information shared by tweets that can quickly go viral, the concept of "Birdwatch" could still prove to be problematic: "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," promised Keith Coleman, Product VP at Twitter on the Twitter blog back in January when the first phase of Birdwatch was launched.