Twitter reveals Birdwatch to allow users to identify potentially misleading information

Shane McGlaun - Jan 26, 2021, 6:51am CST
Twitter reveals Birdwatch to allow users to identify potentially misleading information

Twitter is rolling out a new community-based approach to helping control misinformation called Birdwatch. Twitter says the service came as part of its desire to identify misinformation in all circumstances, not just when something receives widespread public attention. Birdwatch will broaden the range of “voices” that can be part of tackling the problem, and Twitter is using a community-driven approach to do so.

Birdwatch will let users identify information in tweets that they believe is misleading and write notes to provide informative context. Twitter says it thinks the approach can respond quickly to the spread of misinformation and add context that people will trust and find viable. The social networks says eventually it plans to make notes visible directly on tweets for the global Twitter audience when there is consensus from a diverse range of contributors.

It’s unclear exactly how Twitter plans to confirm that information posted to the website is misleading and not simply unpopular. In the first phase of the Birdwatch pilot, notes are only visible on a separate Birdwatch site. Participants will be able to rate the helpfulness of notes added by other contributors.

Twitter is intentionally keeping Birdwatch separate from the standard Twitter feed for now while it builds out the network and gains confidence that produces context people find helpful. Twitter does say that notes won’t have an effect on the way people see tweets or system recommendations. Twitter promises that Birdwatch will be transparent and publicly available via downloadable TSV files.

Algorithms powering Birdwatch are currently being developed, and Twitter promises the code will be published publicly in the Birdwatch Guide. Twitter warns that the approach could be “messy and have problems at times,” but it says the model is worth trying.


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