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Twitter is expanding its experimental community moderation system

Twitter is expanding its experimental community moderation system


It has over 15,000 contributors

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Alex Castro / The Verge

Twitter is expanding Birdwatch, its community-driven content moderation program, to half of all US users on Wednesday. 

Twitter first launched Birdwatch last year with the goal of empowering users to provide additional context to potentially misleading tweets. Members of the program are asked to write notes contextualizing posts or provide related information that appears on user feeds. While only a small group of users have been able to view Birdwatch notes in the past, all notes have been publicly available on the Birdwatch website.

Twitter has its own policies addressing misinformation on its platform and has started labeling false tweets and manipulated videos over the last few years. In a call with reporters on Tuesday, Twitter’s vice president of product Keith Coleman said that Birdwatch extends beyond the company’s stated content policies to address “gray” areas in its own rules.

The image shows a Birdwatch program screen informing a member how their contextualizing notes have been received as either helpful or unhelpful to Twitter users.
Birdwatch members now receive notifications informing them of how their contextualizing notes have been ranked by users.
Image: Twitter

“We don’t think there’s any one size fits all solution to misinformation,” Coleman told reporters on Tuesday. “So Birdwatch is additive to the many other things we do whether that’s adding labels or enforcing our rules.”

Once a Birdwatch note is attached to a tweet, users are 15 to 35 percent less likely to engage with it compared to users who aren’t shown the note, Twitter said on Tuesday. Still, the program is in its early stages, and it’s unclear when or if it will be rolled out to all US users. 

Since Birdwatch’s January 2021 launch, Twitter has added new features to encourage thoughtful use of the program. Members of the program now receive notifications telling them how many people saw their notes and have access to a new tab of posts that may need more timely review. In an attempt to discourage member harassment, Twitter has also allowed Birdwatch members to post their notes under aliases instead of their account handles. If a member’s notes are deemed unhelpful more times than not, their ability to fact-check tweets can be temporarily suspended.

Currently, Twitter’s Birdwatch program has around 15,000 different contributors, the company said on Tuesday. Still, it’s unclear how those contributors are vetted, and Twitter has recently come under fire for accepting an “overt” QAnon conspiracy theorist into the Birdwatch program, as reported earlier this week by The Washington Post.