Twitter will expand the “Birdwatch” community fact-checker

Twitter Inc. will expand its community-based fact-checking project called Birdwatch, the social media company announced Wednesday, deepening its new approach to a new form of content moderation.

Birdwatch was launched last year, allowing certain Twitter users to debunk misleading tweets by attaching notes to content to provide context or point to specific sources.

Social media platforms, including Twitter, have long faced competing pressures over how to moderate the content that appears on their services. Critics have accused companies of doing too little to remove harmful posts, while others argue platforms should protect free speech.

Billionaire Elon Musk, who is trying to walk away from his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter, said the company should remove fewer posts and act as a public town hall for free speech.

Tweets with Birdwatch ratings are left on the service and its algorithmic distribution to other users is unaffected.

“We just think it’s a really powerful starting point, because it’s just about arming people with information and letting them make up their own minds,” said Keith Coleman, vice president of product. , during a briefing with journalists.

While Twitter has policies that prohibit content such as hate speech or calls for violence, Birdwatch allows the Twitter community to address tweets in “grey areas”, he said.

Until now, Birdwatch was a limited experiment with 15,000 contributors writing fact-checking notes. Twitter said it will now add about 1,000 new contributors per week.

Birdwatch notes are kept on a separate website, but half of users in the United States will start seeing notes in their Twitter timeline, the company said.

The project has produced encouraging results, Twitter said. People are 15% to 35% less likely to “like” or retweet content that has a Birdwatch rating attached. They are also 20-40% less likely to agree with a potentially misleading tweet after reading a Birdwatch note about it.

(Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas Editing by Matthew Lewis)

© 2022 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Virginia C. Taylor