In Brief

Twitter launches fact-checking platform

USA

26 January 2021

The ongoing debate around misinformation on social media has taken a new turn as Twitter announced the launch of Birdwatch, a pilot programme that will allow users to flag and annotate misleading or inaccurate tweets.

The pilot, which currently includes around 1,000 users in the US, is intended as a way to allow users to fact-check tweets. The system will eventually allow users to add notes to tweets.

During the pilot, notes will not be visible on Twitter itself, but will show up on the Birdwatch website. Users involved in the pilot may also rate notes.

“We believe this approach has the potential to respond quickly when misleading information spreads, adding context that people trust and find valuable,” Twitter said in a blog post. “Eventually we aim to make notes visible directly on Tweets for the global Twitter audience, when there is consensus from a broad and diverse set of contributors.”

The Data contributed to Birdwatch will be available in TSV files, and Twitter will also publish the platform's algorithms.

“We know there are a number of challenges toward building a community-driven system like this — from making it resistant to manipulation attempts to ensuring it isn’t dominated by a simple majority or biased based on its distribution of contributors,” said the company. “We’ll be focused on these things throughout the pilot.”

Twitter has said that it expects to have between 1,000 and 100,000 Birdwatchers. Programme users will be admitted on a rolling basis and will not be paid.