Twitter has repeatedly struggled with the spread of false information on its platform – now the community itself is to take action. Twitter wants to combat fake news with the Birdwatch project.
Bill Gates, the Corona crisis, the U.S. presidential election – these are just a few examples of popular conspiracy ideologies that are spreading particularly rapidly on social networks thanks to the filter bubble and algorithms.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump, in particular, has kept his favorite mouthpiece Twitter constantly on its toes when it comes to fake news. In the end, he went along with Twitter’s entire spectrum for curbing false information: tweets with fact-check notices, deleted tweets, blocked account and, in the end, even deleted account.
On the one hand, the final deletion of the account @realdonaldtrump has caused countless cheers. On the other, there were calls for freedom of expression.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, for example, criticized in an interview with Bild am Sonntag that it cannot be “the decision of a company boss in the USA who is allowed to say what where and who is not.”
The community should take over Birdwatch
Twitter has been working since early 2020 on the possibility of involving its community in fact checks.
The as-yet-unnamed project is now running as a pilot in the U.S. under the name Birdwatch. Around 1,000 users can check questionable content and then provide further information accordingly.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) January 25, 2021
If a tweet with false or misleading content appears in the timeline, the fact checker can “contribute to Birdwatch” via the menu. There, there is the option to classify the content: according to the degree of misleading and the degree of damage possibly caused.
In this way, content that does not explicitly violate the network’s rules should also be classified. Twitter also wants to create a gradation here and move away from black-and-white thinking of “true” or “false.”
Using swarm intelligence for greater security
At first glance, Birdwatch is reminiscent of Wikipedia, which has grown considerably since its founding in 2001 thanks to contributions from the community and has now developed into a mass medium.
But even the free Internet encyclopedia has to contend with abuse time and again due to its community approach.
So there is a definite danger that Twitter’s bird watch will only bring the next problem into the house and create a negative vortex of fake news. But perhaps the network will simply create numerous new jobs in the moderation department.