Twitter launched 'Birdwatch,' allowing users to comment to posts they consider 'misleading or false'

"We know there are a number of challenges toward building a community-driven system like this," Twitter acknowledged.

Updated: January 26, 2021 - 10:22am

Twitter has launched a new feature designed to assist the site's effort to hinder the spread of misinformation by allowing a small sub-section of users to provide context to tweets they feel are misleading.

The project, which is called Birdwatch, will be available to users on a first-come, first-served basis. It will allow users to write notes that provide context to tweets they believe require additional information to be digested by the public responsibly. 

"Birdwatch allows people to identify information in Tweets they believe is misleading or false, 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," wrote Keith Coleman, a Twitter vice president.

Birdwatch will exist separately from the main timeline of the site, though the company intends to eventually make notes visible to the broader audience. 

Birdwatch users will be allowed to rate the notes of other Birdwatch users, an attempt to prevent bad-faith individuals from undermining the goal of the system. 

Twitter has recently begun taking dramatic action to prevent the spread of what it believes is misinformation – notably, taking the unprecedented step several weeks ago of permanently banning then-President Donald Trump's account. Since then, the site has purged thousands of accounts and limited the functionality of others. 

"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," Coleman wrote. 

Since the beginning of the global coronavirus pandemic, the company has been feeling the heat to prevent the spread of misinformation about the sometimes fatal virus.

In March of 2020, the company began removing tweets it determined were "misleading and potentially harmful" as they pertained to the pandemic. In May, it introduced a series of labels to add to tweets peddling conspiracy theories about the virus, its unknown origins, and fake cures for the illness. 

Beyond just concerns about the novel coronavirus, the company created the "manipulated media" tag, which it promptly began affixing to tweets of Trump's. In the weeks leading up to the November election, the company hit hundreds of thousands of tweets with the "disputed and potentially misleading" tag. 

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