Twitter has announced it is testing a feature that lets people report tweets they think are misleading, with the company saying it’s looking for the input thus received to help it scale up and accelerate its “broader misinformation work.”
The new feature is being tested in the United States, South Korea, and Australia starting Aug. 17, the company said in a series of tweets.
“We’re assessing if this is an effective approach so we’re starting small,” Twitter stated, later adding in a tweet that, “in this experimental stage, we plan to learn from a small, geographically diverse set of regions before scaling globally to other areas!”
The way the trial feature works is that when selected users click on the Report Tweet option, they will find the option to flag the tweet as “It’s misleading.” Twitter will then ask those people to provide additional information about the issue they’re reporting.
The company added that it may not take action on each report and won’t respond to every tweet that is flagged, “but your input will help us identify trends so that we can improve the speed and scale of our broader misinformation work.”
Unsurprisingly, the pilot program has already sparked controversy, with some Twitter users offering critical reactions ranging from concerns about the lack of standards for what constitutes “misleading,” to worries that the feature would be misused “to silence anything that doesn’t fit the mainstream narrative,” to fears that it would make it easier for users to get “steamrolled by hate groups.”
Some users reacted with glee, others called for the feature to be rolled out in other regions, and others still posted screenshots of Twitter notifications confirming they had successfully flagged a post as “misleading.”
This is not the first time Twitter has experimented with user-driven means for flagging misinformation. In January, the company rolled out a pilot program called Birdwatch, in which approved contributors would add notes that are visible to the public on posts they believe are misleading. Twitter called it “a community-based approach to misinformation.”
By Tom Ozimek