Twitter expands Birdwatch fact-checking feature to all U.S. users

The Birdwatch logo

Twitter has announced the expansion of a feature called Birdwatch to all users in the U.S. No longer can you tweet out your factually wrong messages in peace; no, Twitter wants volunteers to fact-check you and leave Birdwatch notes on your dubious remarks. According to the company, the feature is supposed to bring context to tweets in a “transparent and collaborative way”.

As of Thursday, Twitter users in the United States will start to see some tweets accompanied by Birdwatch notes with relevant community-contributed information that has been rated as helpful. Twitter said most notes will provide additional sources that can provide more context about a subject or conversation. If you come across any notes, you will be able to provide feedback on whether they were helpful or not.

Explaining on a more technical level how Birdwatch works, Twitter said:

“In order to be shown on a Tweet, Birdwatch notes need to be found helpful by people who have tended to disagree in their past ratings. This means the algorithm takes into account not only how many contributors rated a note as Helpful or Not Helpful, but also whether people who rated it seem to come from different perspectives. Check out our Birdwatch guide https://twitter.github.io/birdwatch/ for more info on this.”

Not everybody will be able to write notes initially, to qualify you must consistently rate other notes as Helpful or Not Helpful, eventually, you’ll be given the ability to write notes in a “thoughtful way”. If you want to examine the Birdwatch algorithm, you can take a look at the public code on GitHub.

For now, the feature will only be available in the United States. The company didn’t mention when it will be available elsewhere. It’ll be interesting to see the reaction to Birdwatch and whether it helps people to be better informed about what they read online.

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