Twitter introduces for the first time a way to report posts as “misleading.”
Many of the major social networks have been accused of not doing enough to combat the spread of disinformation during the Covid pandemic and the U.S. election campaign.
Twitter’s reporting feature has never offered a clear option for such posts.
The company said the new feature is only a test and will initially be available in only a few countries.
“Some people” in Australia, South Korea and the United States will now see an option for “it’s misleading” when trying to report a tweet, the tech giant said.
It also warned users that the system may not have a significant impact.
“We are evaluating whether this is an effective approach, so we are starting small,” the company said on its security account.
“We can’t respond to every report, but your input will help us identify trends so we can improve the speed and scale of our broader misinformation efforts.”
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Twitter plans to eventually roll out the feature in other countries.
Currently, someone reporting misinformation must choose from options such as “suspicious or spam” or “abusive or harmful” – and then narrow it down to more specific subcategories to make a report.
Because the options are so specific, it can often be unclear which one to use.
If I had a penny for how often people message me and ask why there’s no way to report misinformation on Twitter, I’d be a very rich woman.
Since the pandemic began, there has been increased pressure on social media to do more to combat the wave of harmful falsehoods that have spread online.
These include unsubstantiated conspiracies about Covid-19 and vaccines, and about last year’s U.S. election, which led to the riots on Capitol Hill and resulted in the suspension of U.S. President Donald Trump’s account.
I’ve spent the last year and a half reporting on the real-world impact of misleading online posts – scaring people away from covid vaccinations, destroying relationships and provoking violence.
Some critics argue that the ability to report misinformation should have been introduced months ago to prevent this offline harm. The question remains, however, what impact this will really have.
There are concerns that the social media site will have difficulty moderating the avalanche of reported content – including from those spreading falsehoods that then flag accurate information as misleading.
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Twitter has focused on suspending and banning accounts that continually spread harmful Covid 19 misinformation once it comes to the company’s attention.
In early 2020, Twitter began adding warnings to such tweets, announced a collaboration with news organizations to debunk misinformation, and launched a pilot program in January that allows a small number of people to submit “tips” about misleading content.
Twitter and other tech giants, however, continue to face criticism for spreading misinformation.
The executives have repeatedly appeared before U.S. politicians to answer questions about their policies, while groups such as the Center for Countering Digital Hate have accused them of not doing enough to combat misinformation about vaccines – among other forms of harm.