ExplainedTwitter's User-Driven 'Birdwatch' Programme To Fight Misinformation

The programme, which is currently in its pilot phase, will provide contexts to tweets through user-added notes.

On Monday, microblogging giant Twitter launched its 'Birdwatch' programme, aimed at fighting misinformation on the platform with the help of user-driven fact checking. It has initially been launched as a pilot programme, which includes 1000 users in the United States who will eventually be able to 'add notes' to tweets to provide context.

Birdwatch is currently in its first phase of the pilot programme, wherein the notes added by the users will not be available on Twitter, but rather a public Birdwatch website which is currently also available for US users only. Participants in the pilot programme can also rate the helpfulness of notes provided by other participants.

In a blog post, while announcing the launch of the programme, Twitter wrote, "These notes are being intentionally kept separate from Twitter for now, while we build Birdwatch and gain confidence that it produces context people find helpful and appropriate." The company also verified that these notes will not affect the way people sees tweets, or the recommendations made by the news feed algorithm.

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An example of a tweet on the Birdwatch website: Tweets will containing an option for users to view further context through user-added notes.

Twitter also announced that it shall make publicly available all the information and notes contributed through Birdwatch through TSV files along with the algorithms developed to power the reputation and consensus systems of Birdwatch in a Birdwatch Guide.

Users can participate in the pilot programme as and when it arrives in their country by signing up here.

"We know there are a number of challenges toward building a community-driven system like this — from making it resistant to manipulation attempts to ensuring it isn't dominated by a simple majority or biased based on its distribution of contributors," said Twitter Vice President of Product Keith Coleman through the blogpost.

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After grappling with rising tides of misinformation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the United States Presidential Elections last year, Twitter, along with its contemporary Facebook, have taken certain steps like censoring and eventually banning former US President Donald Trump after his constant attempts at spreading disinformation about voter fraud lead to the storming of the US Congress.

While Facebook had already launched a fact checking programme with third-party fact checkers to provide 'fact check' labels on misleading posts, this is the first attempt by Twitter to start a fact checking initiative on its platform.

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