Twitter launches Birdwatch, an initiative to combat ‘misleading information’
Twitter on Monday launched a new “community-driven” initiative to combat “misleading information” called Birdwatch, and the website is asking for volunteers.
“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,” Twitter explained. “For now, these notes won’t appear directly on Twitter, but anyone in the US can view them at” a webpage for the initiative.
“We’ll use the notes and your feedback to help shape this program and learn how to reach our goal of letting the Twitter community decide when and what context is added to a Tweet,” the company added.
This move from Twitter comes as large technology companies are censoring conservatives because of their political beliefs and after then-President Donald Trump was banned from the platform following the January 6 deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol by his most extreme supporters to prevent Congress from certifying President Joe Biden‘s 2020 election victory.
With their announcement of Birdwatch, the company posted a one-minute video breaking down the concept.
The video depicts one fictional user posting the obviously false claim that “Whales are not real! They’re funded by the government to watch us!!!” and a growing amount of other users repeating and debating this claim which has gone viral in the video.
The cavalcade of tweets aggregating the claim then reaches its climax when one user comments, “Can anyone who actually knows what they’re talking about chime in?”
Then a message flashes across the screen, saying: “Spoiler alert: You can’t trust everything you see online.”
“That’s why we’re introducing Birdwatch,” it continues.
The video then shows how a user can “contribute” a tweet to Birdwatch, using the one about whales as an example.
When someone clicks “Contribute to Birdwatch,” Twitter provides a checklist of criteria asking “Why do you believe this Tweet is misleading?” and to click all option that apply. The options include: “It contains a factual error,” “It contains a digitally altered photo or video,” “It contains outdated information that may be misleading,” “It is a misrepresentation or missing important context,” “It is a joke or satire that might be misinterpreted as a fact,” and “Other.”
After selecting the options that apply, Twitter asks the user: “If many believed this Tweet, it might cause” either “little harm” or “considerable harm.”
The site then asks the user to “explain the evidence” for the reasons they stated the tweet needs context.
After this, Twitter generates a “note” providing context for the offending tweet and asks the user if the note is helpful and whether they agree with the note’s conclusion.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.