FILE PHOTO: A Twitter logo is seen outside the company headquarters, during a purported demonstration by supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump to protest the social media company’s permanent suspension of the president’s Twitter account, in San Francisco, California, U.S., January 11, 2021. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo


Twitter launched a project that allows users to fact-check what other users tweet through a rating system.

The system allows users to discuss and add context to tweets they believe are misleading or false in the form of notes. Notes can then be rated by other contributors on a 1-5 helpfulness scale, with notes being moved to the top of the list and highlighted as “currently rated helpful” when enough contributors score them high enough. Birdwatch will initially have notes visible on a separate website, but the company said notes will be available directly on Twitter when there is a consensus from contributors.

Twitter did not say whether tweets that receive notes would be removed or if users would face consequences for posts being marked as misleading. The intent is to provide context and other insight to developing topics. 

Building a community-driven moderation system is challenging, from guarding against manipulation to ensuring a particular group doesn’t dominate the moderation decisions, said Twitter Vice President of Product Keith Coleman. The pilot period will allow the public to audit Birdwatch, highlighting both opportunities and flaws in its processes.

Birdwatch’s pilot program allows a selected group of users to sign up through Twitter. To be eligible, users must have a U.S.-based phone carrier, verified email and phone number, and no recent Twitter rule violations. The program will start with between 1,000 and 100,000 users, eventually expanding beyond the U.S.

The pilot project received mixed reactions following its announcement. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Birdwatch will allow “self-proclaimed ‘fact-checkers’ and leftist Silicon Valley billionaires” to act as arbiters of truth.. Evan Greer, the director of online activist group Fight for the Future, said the program’s effectiveness will depend on how it is carried out. She said that decentralizing moderation is a creative method for addressing disinformation beyond simply censoring content.


This section includes an aggregation of articles showing different viewpoints on the topic.

Twitter will test letting some users fact-check tweets. – New York Times – 1/25/2021
Twitter will start Birdwatch as a small pilot program with 1,000 users, and the fact-checking they produce will not be visible on Twitter but will appear on a separate site. If the experiment is successful, Twitter plans to expand the program to more than 100,000 people in the coming months and will make their contributions visible to all users.

Twitter Unveils ‘Birdwatch,’ a New Platform Where Users Fact-Check Tweets – Reason – 1/25/2021
The beauty of Birdwatch is that the fact-checking is provided by other users, rather than by Twitter itself. Under this system, there should be no complaints that Twitter has fact-checked X tweet but not Y tweet—that’s up to the users, and anyone who doesn’t like a note is free to object to it. These notes don’t have to be mere true/false statements, either.

Twitter launches ‘Birdwatch’ community forum to combat misinformation – CNET – 1/25/2021
Coleman said Twitter eventually wants to make notes visible directly on the tweets in question, but for now, they’ll only be visible on a separate Birdwatch page. Birdwatch’s Twitter page is active and it says that it plans to continue building in “public” for transparency. 

Twitter Encourages Users to Snitch on Each Other with ‘Birdwatch’ Feature – Breitbart – 1/26/2021
Social media giant Twitter has announced a new feature called “Birdwatch” which aims to encourage users to police and flag each other’s tweets if they believe they spread misinformation. The company claims it wants to “broaden the range of voices” fighting against misinformation, but the feature has the potential to devolve into flagging wars between different factions of users.

After a string of censorship scandals, Twitter launches ‘birdwatch’ initiative to combat ‘misinformation’ – Conservative Review – 1/25/2021
It seems that Twitter believes that mass sourcing of reality is what makes reality real. Twitter is looking for people to sign on to do this work, saying “We’re looking for people to test this out in the US –– you can add notes with helpful context to Tweets that you think are misleading.


This section includes an aggregation of tweets showing different viewpoints on the topic.

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