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Twitter tests new feature wherein users can report tweets as misleading to tackle misinformation

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In its latest efforts to tackle misinformation, Twitter will allow users to categorise misleading tweets from a dropdown menu, including ones related to elections and the pandemic. 

Twitter is testing a new feature in which users will be able to flag tweets that come across as misleading as per its tweet. The feature will be available initially for some users in the United States, South Korea, and Australia. 

Twitter is one of the most popular social media websites used by many for the rapid consumption of information; the platform has also seen a rapid spread of misinformation, especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since Twitter has had only a few reporting tools for misinformation so far, the new experiment could be a significant step in tackling misinformation. 

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What do we know about the experiment?

A report by The Verge stated that:

  • Once users decide to report a tweet, they will be able to select categories from the dropdown menu. 
  • The categories will be divided into political, health-related, and others. 
  • The politics category features specific forms of misinformation like content related to elections. 
  • The health category includes an option for users to flag COVID-19-specific misinformation.
  • The company clarified that not every report will be reviewed during this interval.
  • Twitter intends to run this experiment for a few months before rolling it out to other countries.

The report also said that the experiment could be used to identify tweets containing misinformation that have the potential to go viral.

“We’re assessing if this is an effective approach so we’re starting small. We may not take action on and cannot respond to each report in the experiment, but your input will help us identify trends so that we can improve the speed and scale of our broader misinformation work,” Twitter concluded in its thread.

It is not known how the company plans to address the reported tweets. 

Twitter’s previous efforts against misinformation

February 2020: The site tweaked its approach against misleading facts and introduced labels such as manipulated media and synthetic media. It extended these labels to facts and information related to COVID-19 in May. 

May 2020: Twitter started flagging some of former President Donald Trump’s tweets with a fact-check warning. The tweets carried a link under his tweets which read “Get the facts about mail-in ballots” that guided users to a Twitter “moments” page with fact checks and news stories about Trump’s unsubstantiated claims.

October 2020: Amid the US presidential elections, the company started sending out notifications such as “you might encounter misleading information about voting by mail,” and “election results may be delayed.” The PSAs were placed at the top of US users’ timelines and in search results that were meant to “preemptively” debunk falsehoods about voting and election results.

January 2021: The site rolled out a tool titled “Birdwatch” which lets users identify the information they believe is false or misleading. The users write notes about tweets they consider untrue or that may contain misinformation. The programme allowed both experts and non-experts to write notes. 

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March 2021: Twitter drafted new rules to prevent the spread of misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and started labelling tweets with misleading information, and banning accounts that repeatedly broke the rules.

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