Twitter has officially launched ‘Birdwatch’. It is the micro-blogging network’s new method to fight misinformation and disinformation campaigns that are common on social media platforms. The feature currently relies on users to identify information that they believe to be misleading or false. Twitter Birdwatch is restricted to the US for now, but it should expand to other regions gradually.
Twitter has launched the ‘Birdwatch’ feature in the US. Currently open to a small group of users, the feature will allow the social platform users to add context notes to tweets. Twitter is confident that the community-driven Birdwatch feature will help in fighting large-scale disinformation campaigns.
How Does Twitter Birdwatch Feature Work?
Twitter Birdwatch is now accessible to only 1000 users and that too in the US. Users participating in the pilot can write notes on individual tweets. However, the notes won’t be publicly visible on Twitter. Instead, the annotations will be visible on the public Birdwatch website. Pilot users can also rate notes submitted by other participants in the program there.
Twitter Vice President of Product Keith Coleman attempted to explain the feature. “Birdwatch allows people to identify information in Tweets they believe is misleading and write notes that provide informative context. We believe this approach has the potential to respond quickly when misleading information spreads, adding context that people trust and find valuable. 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.”
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) January 25, 2021
At the onset, users would be able to flag tweets on the Twitter Birdwatch site. The users should have sufficient reason to find the Tweets misleading. They can then add context via notes, and rate the messages based on whether they find them helpful or not.
Twitter had indicated it was working on the Birdwatch feature late last year. The company was reportedly working on the same since the start of 2020. However, the micro-blogging network was not going to launch the feature before US Presidential Elections. Now that America has chosen its President, Twitter has launched Birdwatch.
How Will Twitter Birdwatch Help Combat Misinformation Campaigns?
Just like every other Social Media platform, Twitter has struggled with focused and large-scale misinformation campaigns. The spread of factually incorrect and misleading information is many-a-times intentional. There has always been an urgent need to fight the propaganda machines.
— The Verge (@verge) January 25, 2021
Twitter itself took steps to try to combat election misinformation during the US presidential campaign. It had begun by labeling tweets with wrong or misleading information about the election. However, the platform was poorly received and sometimes criticized.
Now, all the information collating at the Birdwatch website will be user-generated. It will be available online and downloadable in TSV files. Twitter will also publish the algorithms that power the program publicly in a Birdwatch Guide.