Leak reveals how Twitter might fight back against misleading tweets

Leak reveals how Twitter might fight back against misleading tweets
Doctor Gregory House, in the pilot of House MD, laid out the worldview that would guide him over the ensuing eight years of episodes; "Everybody lies," he said. And that seems truer today than ever before. The U.S. is currently run by a president who, by several counts, has lied over 15,000 times since taking office. But that's not to say that lying doesn't occur on both sides of the political spectrum; remember, Dr. House noted that "everybody" lies, not just Republicans or Democrats.

Telling a whopper on social media sites like Twitter has a huge effect on those who subscribe to such sites, especially if they are not familiar with the actual facts of a subject. NBC News says that it has obtained a leaked demo showing that Twitter is looking to fight back against tweets containing lies and misleading statements that can be fact-checked. A bright orange sticker will appear on these tweets with a bold heading that reads "Harmfully Misleading." The rest of the message on the sticker says, "Twitter Community reports have identified this tweet as violating the Community Policy on Harmfully Misleading Information. This tweet's visibility will be reduced."

The leaked demo shows flagged tweets from Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (about background checks for gun control), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) about whistleblowers, and a tweet that contains misinformation about a medical condition. Last month, Twitter announced a new policy that bans tweets containing "deep fake" videos. The policy is aimed at members who "deceptively share synthetic or manipulated media that are likely to cause harm."

Twitter is using verified fact-checkers and journalists to mark up tweets containing lies and misinformation

A Twitter spokesman told NBC News, "We’re exploring a number of ways to address misinformation and provide more context for tweets on Twitter. Misinformation is a critical issue and we will be testing many different ways to address it." The version leaked to NBC News would rely on verified fact-checkers and journalists to examine tweets from public figures that might contain lies and misinformation. Twitter is expected to announce changes to its policies toward misleading tweets on March 5th.

In another version of the leaked demo, Twitter members who "contribute in good faith and act like a good neighbor" and "provide critical context to help people understand information they see" could earn points toward a Community Badge. In this iteration of the demo, community members are asked if a particular tweet is "likely" or "unlikely" to be "harmfully misleading." The member is asked why the tweet is harmfully misleading and is asked to rate (on a scale of 0-100) how many other members would agree with their assessment of the tweet. The demo notes, "The more points you earn, the more your vote counts."

The community reporting feature is one of many possible options that Twitter will have to choose from in order to reduce the amount of misleading information and lies that could exponentially grow on its platform as we get closer to the 2020 presidential election. With fresh reports stating that the Russians are once again trying to manipulate the election, there have been signs that Facebook is being inundated with such posts.

Back in October, Twitter announced that it was no longer accepting political ads. Meanwhile, Facebook has said that not only won't it ban political ads from the platform, it also won't fact check them. While Twitter appears as though it is trying to prevent the spread of misinformation and lies, it seems that Facebook likes to thrive on chaos.


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