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Twitter makes it harder to amplify content ahead of US elections


In the wake of Facebook steps to safeguard the US elections, Twitter announced a series of steps aimed at crating friction in amplification of viral misinformation. As a result, across the world, it will prompt users to “Quote Tweet” instead of “Retweet” so that amplification via retweets reduces, in a probable bid to combat bot-led amplification of content. Across the world, Twitter will no longer recommend tweets that are “liked by” from people users don’t follow. In the US, it will only show trending topics under the “For You” tab if where it can give context about why certain terms are trending. All the changes will come into effect on October 20 and will continue till at least November 3, the final day of polls in USA.

Like Facebook, to deal with the real risk of the incumbent American president refusing to cede power in case he loses, Twitter too will label tweets by candidates in the US Presidential and Congressional elections who prematurely claim a victory, the company announced on Friday. It will instead direct users to its US election page. It will wait for formal announcement of results from state election officials or from at least “two authoritative, national news outlets” who make independent election calls.

Twitter mentioned that it already de-amplifies tweets that have labels about misleading information or manipulated media. It is interesting that in all its attempts to de-amplify viral content, the platform has not considered turning off trends altogether or making chronological tweet feed the default home page.

Similar to its emphasis on “Quote Tweet” instead of “Retweet”, Twitter had earlier tested a similar feature on Android where it would prompt users to read the linked article before retweeting it. The platform claimed that as a result of this change in user interface, 40% of people who saw the prompt opened the article and 33% users opened articles before retweeting them. As a result, it is working on introducing this feature globally.

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