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Twitter will start showing crowd-sourced fact checks to some users

Twitter will start showing crowd-sourced fact checks to some users

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A pilot program of Birdwatch was launched in 2021

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Twitter’s blue bird silhouette logo is seen on a black background.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

A small group of US Twitter users will now see crowdsourced notes under tweets flagged as misleading. The user-generated notes are part of a program called Birdwatch, launched in 2021 by Twitter to address misinformation on the platform. 

Birdwatch allows contributors to write context notes and sources under tweets and rate whether existing notes are helpful. A pilot program with 10,000 contributors has been underway since last year, but only visible on a separate Birdwatch site — now, some Twitter users will see notes with high ratings directly under tweets and be able to rate their usefulness.

Image: Twitter

“By empowering people to do this together, they can add helpful and informative context for people from different points of view,” Keith Coleman, vice president of product at Twitter, says in the announcement.

Twitter has emphasized the importance of having contributors with diverse points of view, determined not by demographics but by how they’ve rated past notes. A note only appears under tweets if it’s been rated as helpful by enough contributors “from different perspectives.” 

Twitter says it’s rolling out Birdwatch to more people following “encouraging signs that Birdwatch can be helpful and informative to people” on the platform. A survey found people across the political spectrum found notes helpful and were 20 to 40 percent less likely to agree with the substance of a potentially misleading tweet when compared to seeing the tweet without a Birdwatch note.

By crowdsourcing fact checks of viral content, Twitter is asking users to act in good faith to help fight misinformation on the platform. But data made publicly available by Twitter suggests participation is low. An analysis by The Washington Post this week found that Birdwatch contributors were flagging just 43 tweets a day in 2022 before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th. That number increased to 156 tweets the day of the invasion, according to the analysis.

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