Twitter’s Birdwatch system could help users warn one another about misinformation

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Throughout 2020, a number of social media platforms have been taking a stronger stance when it comes to misinformation. Some have enforced this new approach, while others have not. Twitter, for the most part, finds itself in the former category, and the company is now working on a misinformation-focused system called Birdwatch.

At least that’s the codename for now, with it subject to change upon official, but more important than the name, is the objective of Birdwatch.

To that end, it is designed to serve as a system to highlight misleading tweets that may cause harm, as well as warning other users about said tweet.

The finer details of Birdwatch are unknown for now, with it recently being discovered by Jane Manchun Wong. The tech leaker has a solid history of discovering hidden code in software ahead of official launches, so it looks like the most recent information she’s found is legit.

Wong also found the earlier stages of Birdwatch back in the first week of August, so it looks like the feature’s availability is ramping up.

Twitter has since updated its web app, so further poking and prodding cannot be done, but we still have a decent idea of what this feature aims to do, based off of the images shared above.

To that end, Birdwatch would allow users to attach notes to a tweet by clicking on the binoculars button. This would essentially be open to the public when clicked on, so if a users saw said icon and wanted further context to the tweet, they could do so.

It still remains to be seen who will have access to annotate or add notes to tweets. For now it seems like Twitter is going to be leveraging its community of users to do active policing on its site and act as an online neighbourhood watch of sorts.

Whether that will effective strategy is unclear, especially given some of the mob tactics and co-ordinated attacks we’ve seen on Twitter in the past.

As such it will be interesting to see how Twitter adds control to the Birdwatch system, and whether it will indeed work as an effective measure to limit the spread of misinformation on its platform.

At the time of writing, however, no official launch date has been detailed for the new feature.

[Image – Photo by MORAN on Unsplash]

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Editor of Hypertext. Covers smartphones, IoT, 5G, cloud computing and a few things in between. Also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games when not taking the hatchet to stories.


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