Twitter Announces Birdwatch: A Self-Policing Fact Check Community

On Monday, Twitter unveiled a new pilot program which gives someone the ability to append information to other tweets that they believe to be false or misleading.

Twitter Announces Birdwatch: A Self-Policing Fact Check Community

On Monday, Twitter unveiled a new pilot program which gives someone the ability to append information to other tweets that they believe to be false or misleading.

The new feature, named Birdwatch, will give Twitter users the ability to add information that they feel provides “informative context,” if they believe it to be misleading or false. The feature lets a user write a notation which then becomes appended to the original tweet.

No accounts or tweets will be exempt from the watchful eyes of Birdwatch which will permit users to append messages to content posted by government officials, news outlets, and journalists.

We believe this approach has the potential to respond quickly when misleading information spreads, adding context that people trust and find valuable,” Twitter Vice President of Product Keith Coleman said in a news release.

According to a report by Fox News, the company explained that it is “not doing a fact check” with Birdwatch notations, saying that it is instead, a way to “add context.” However, critics argue that appending messages to content believed to be “false” or “misleading” is the defacto definition of “fact checking.”

We want to invite anyone to sign up and participate in this program, and know that the broader and more diverse the group, the better Birdwatch will be at effectively addressing misinformation,” Coleman said.

Although Twitter invites anyone to apply to the program, a Twitter user must be located in the United States, have a verified email, a verified U.S. phone number, and no policy violations within the last year. Twitter also stated that users who have previously broken their rules, or had an account suspension, will be disqualified from participating in the program.

Currently, Birdwatch is only available to a 1,000 users in the pilot program phase.

We’re looking to reduce the likelihood of bad actors as we’re getting started here,” Jonah Grant, Twitter’s staff software engineer said. 

Birdwatch is being introduced as Twitter has taken a more aggressive approach to misinformation on the platform. 

Twitter has already taken a firm stance against content that they have deemed to be misleading or dangerous, with a keen interest in shaping content surrounding the 2020 presidential election and the coronavirus.

Just this month, Twitter permanently suspended Donald Trump’s account, claiming he had violated their policies. The Tech Giant followed the move by suspending nearly 100,000 additional accounts that the company claims to have been sharing “harmful QAnon-associated content.”

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