Twitter introduced a new testing feature on Tuesday that allows users to report any misinformation they encounter on the platform and report it to the company as “misleading”. The test will roll out to most users in the United States, Australia, and South Korea starting today.
In the new test, Twitter users can expand the context menu with the three dots in the upper right corner of a tweet to select “Report tweet”, where they will encounter the new option to report a misleading tweet. The next menu allows users to indicate that a tweet is misleading about “Politics,” “Health,” or “something else”. If they choose politics, they can indicate whether the misleading political tweet is related to elections, and if they choose health, they can flag a misleading tweet specifically about COVID-19.
Twitter previously added a way for users to report election-related misinformation, although those options were previously temporary features related to global elections. Back in 2019, the platform introduced the option to report misleading tweets about voting to protect elections in Europe and India.
The intent is to give users an opportunity to uncover Tweets that violate Twitter’s existing policies on misinformation related to elections and pandemics, two issues that policy and enforcement efforts are focused on. The user reporting system will work with Twitter’s proactive systems to identify potentially dangerous misinformation based on a combination of human and automated moderation. For now, users will not receive updates from the company about what happens to misleading tweets they report, although these updates may be added in the future.
While the new reporting feature will be widely available, the company describes the test as an “experiment” rather than a finished feature. Twitter will watch as people on the platform use the new misinformation reporting tool to see if user reporting can be an effective tool in identifying potentially harmful misleading tweets, even though the company does not have a set schedule for full implementation or removal of the test. represent.
At the moment, Twitter doesn’t seem very concerned about users abusing the feature as the new user reporting option is built right into its established moderation system. Still, the idea of users alerting the company to “misleading” tweets is sure to spark new cries of censorship from corners of the platform that are already prone to spreading misinformation.
While the option to mark tweets as misleading is new, the feature will feed reported tweets into the existing enforcement flow of Twitter, where the established rules on health and political misinformation are implemented through a mix of human and algorithmic moderation.
This process also sorts reported tweets by priority for review. Tweets from users with large followers, or tweets that generate unusually high levels of engagement, top the ranking, as do tweets related to elections and COVID-19, Twitter’s two focus areas when it comes to surveillance of misinformation.
The new test is Twitter’s latest attempt to rely more on its own community to identify misinformation. Twitter’s most ambitious experiment in this direction is Birdwatch, a crowdsourced method for users to attach contextual notes and fact checks to tweets that can be rated positively or negatively, Reddit-style. Right now, Birdwatch is just a pilot program, but it’s clear the company is interested in decentralizing moderation – an experiment that is far more thorny than just adding a new way to report tweets.