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Science & Tech

Twitter Considering Tagging Posts in Effort to Combat ‘Misinformation’

The Twitter app loads on an iPhone. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Twitter is exploring ways to combat misinformation, including having fact-checkers tag tweets deemed to be “harmfully misleading,” before rolling out new policy next month, according to a test demo reviewed by NBC News.

Screenshots of a public testing site show how the potential tool might work, with orange flags appearing under the tweet in question, with additional context provided by verified fact-checkers.

 

Twitter confirmed the authenticity of the model.

“We’re exploring a number of ways to address misinformation and provide more context for tweets on Twitter,” a Twitter spokesperson told NBC. “Misinformation is a critical issue and we will be testing many different ways to address it.”

Another option includes using a “community reports” feature, similar to Wikipedia, in which users could report tweets as disinformation. The demo shows how users are asked if the tweet in question is “likely” or “unlikely” to be “harmfully misleading.” To hold people accountable, the tool than asks how users to predict how many other accounts, on a scale of 1 to 100, will agree with them, with more accurate estimates receiving more weight.

“The more points you earn, the more your vote counts,” the demo states. “ . . . Together, we act to help each other understand what’s happening in the world, and protect each other from those who would drive us apart.”

A Twitter spokesperson also confirmed the authenticity of the community demo.

Disinformation on social media has come increasingly under scrutiny in recent months. In January, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) proposed a plan as part of her presidential platform to “create civil and criminal penalties for knowingly disseminating false information about when and how to vote in U.S. elections.”

“The safety of our democracy is more important than shareholder dividends and CEO salaries, and we need tech companies to behave accordingly,” Warren said in the release. “That’s why I’m calling on them to take real steps right now to fight disinformation.”

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