People use the microblogging platform Twitter to stay informed about what is happening around the world. Of course, they want to get credible information from the platform while growing their number of real followers. His is the reason why Twitter plies labels and integrates context to tweets. However, Twitter said that it does not want to limit its efforts to instances where something breaks its rules or gets widespread public attention.
In addition, the social media giant wants to widen the range of voices that are taking part in tackling problems about misinformation. Moreover, it believes that an approach driven by the community can help. This is the reason why Birdwatch is created and launched. It is piloted in the United States as a community-driven approach that can help in addressing misleading information on Twitter.
What is Birdwatch
Birdwatch is a new program that Twitter launched hed. Its aim is to fight misinformation on the platform using volunteers who will help in determining the reliability of tweets that people publish.
The aforementioned strategy is known as crowdsourced moderation. Through this tactic, a platform places some of the responsibilities of dealing with misinformation on the users of the platform themselves. In the past, a number of researchers have advocated fr crowdsourced methods because the amount of misinformation circulating far exceeds the capacity of content moderators and fact-checkers. MIT researchers studying crowdsourced fact-checking suggested that the practice could protect platforms against accusations of bias, something that the fact-checking industry is often accused of. Notably, this result was based on an October 2020 preprint.
Right now, Birdwatch is still in its pilot phase. For this reason, it will only exist on a separate site that is only available for users in the US.
How Does Birdwatch Work?
Birdwatch lets people identify information that they believe is misleading in tweets. It also allows them to write notes that give the platform informative context. Twitter believes that such an approach can potentially respond quickly when misleading information is disseminated and add context that people find trustworthy and relevant. In the future, Twitter aims to make notes visible directly on tweets for the Twitter audience around the globe.
During the first phase of the pilot of Birdwatch’s launch, the said notes will only be visible on a separate Birdwatch site. There, pilot participants can rate how helpful the notes added by the contributors are adding on the context. Twitter intentionally kept these notes from its platform for now while it is currently building Birdwatch. Also, it is making sure that it produces context that people will find helpful, relevant, and appropriate. One thing worth noting is that these notes will not have any effect on the way people see tweets or Twitter’s system recommendations.
Twitter is Building Birdwatch Together With the Community
As of now, Twitter has conducted more than a hundred qualitative interviews with people across the political spectrum who use its platform. It also received a vast range of support for Birdwatch. People have particularly valued notes being in the voice of the community instead of Twitter or any central authority. They also appreciated that the said notes provided relevant and useful context that would help them understand a tweet better rather than just labeling it with “true” or “false.”
Notably, the social media giant said that its goal is to build Birdwatch in the open and allow the entire Twitter community to shape it.
In addition, the social media giant is also taking some steps to make Birdwatch a transparent platform. As its first step, it ensured that all the data contributed to Birdwatch will be available to the public. These data will also be downloadable in TSV files.
Another step that Twitter took to ensure the transparency of Birdwatch is that it developed algorithms that power it. That includes reputation and consensus system. The aim of Twitter for doing this is it wants to publish the code publicly in the Birdwatch Guide.
Twitter’s Next Step
Twitter is aware that it would face a number of challenges that it has to face while it is building a community-driven platform like Birdwatch. That includes making the platform resistant to attempts of manipulation, making sure that it will not be dominated by a simple majority, as well as it will not be biased based on its distribution of contributors. In addition, Twitter will be focused on these things while piloting Birdwatch.
The social media giant is also ensuring that Birdwatch would be as developed as it could. It embedded a member of the University of Chicago’s Center for RISC on its team. It also hosted feedback sessions with experts in various disciplines. Apart from that, Twitter is also now reaching its virtual walls, as well as integrating social science and academic perspectives into the development of this community-driven platform.
In addition, Twitter itself is aware that the process might be messy. However, it still believes that the model is worth trying.
Twitter is a huge and prominent platform. With billions of people using it, no one can easily prevent the dissemination of false information. But if not prevented, this false information can potentially cause harm to those who will see it. This is the reason why Twitter is taking every step that it can in order to stop the spread of such information.
Back then, the social media giant is already adding labels to tweets that have misinformation in them. But it felt like it was not enough because such labels will not educate people the truth about the information they see.
With the launch of Birdwatch, people will be more informed about the news that they see on Twitter. When this is already launched in other countries, it has a huge potential of combatting false information.