Twitter has released the pilot program of their Birdwatch initiative today. The program aims to regain and retain a place for its users to consume and share factual information and uses crowdsourcing to open up a conversation of any given tweet that may raise questions about authenticity. The pilot program is currently available in the U.S.
Birdwatch works a lot like other community-driven platforms, such as Wikipedia, wherein people can contribute verifiable information to give other users a more accurate and thorough picture of the content they are consuming.
Here’s the scene: A participating user is scrolling through their timeline, they spot a tweet that contains questionable and potentially misleading information. That person can write a note that adds context to the tweet and “through consensus from a broad and diverse set of contributors,” the notes will be visible on that particular tweet for everyone to see.
We’ve seen forms of misinformation moderation and tagging from Twitter recently, most notably with tweets regarding the 2020 Election and related stories. According to Twitter, Birdwatch is more community-driven, will allow open discussion, fact-checking, and a voting system to give new users discovering content a way to see the history of contested information and give the public the tools to come to their own conclusions based on fact, rather than hearsay.
Some people, naturally, questioned this method of gathering context, but Twitter had some…well…context to back up why they were moving forward with this initiative:
Twitter Birdwatch seems like a good idea and we’ll see how it stacks up as the program is more broadly implemented. Again, as with other initiatives, Twitter Birdwatch is rooted in transparency and will eventually allow developers to aid in the project as it grows.