Twitter already applies labels to potentially misleading tweets, a policy that was implemented since September of last year ahead of the U.S. presidential elections in order to address tweets that claimed election rigging or premature election results. This method, however, is limited only to tweets that violate Twitter's rules.
The micro-blogging site now wants to go beyond just labeling misleading tweets. Keith Coleman, Twitter's Vice President of Product, today introduced Birdwatch, a community-based approach to tackle misinformation on the platform.
Birdwatch is being piloted in the U.S. first. Users can sign up on its website to report tweets that they find misleading and add notes to provide context. Initially, these notes will be visible only via Birdwatch's site, where other participants can rate their quality. The goal for now is to ensure they produce helpful context that people can trust. In the future, when these notes are vetted by other contributors, they will appear directly on tweets for everyone.
Coleman noted that "this approach has the potential to respond quickly when misleading information spreads, adding context that people trust and find valuable". He added that Birdwatch has gained general support from "individuals across the political spectrum who use Twitter" and value notes provided by a diverse community instead of Twitter or a central source.
As part of Birdwatch's development, Twitter has tapped a member of the University of Chicago’s Center for RISC (Radical Innovation for Social Change), held feedback sessions, and applied social science and academic perspectives. For transparency, Twitter is also making all data contributed to Birdwatch publicly available here.