Twitter

Twitter Unveils 'Birdwatch,' a New Platform Where Users Fact-Check Tweets

An interesting science experiment.

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On Monday, Twitter debuted a new feature that will allow users to add notes to other people's tweets. It's a user-generated fact-checking system, and it's called Birdwatch.

In the pilot phase, these notes will be available on a separate website rather than Twitter itself—though the tentative plan is to eventually add the feature to the main platform.

Nick Pickles, director of public policy strategy and development at Twitter, told Reason the goal is to "move the policy debate about content moderation beyond a framing of deciding whether things are true or false or not."

"People on Twitter desire to be part of the conversation," he said.

Twitter gave me a preview and demonstration of Birdwatch prior to its launch and solicited my feedback. The concept is intriguing: Notes will be written by Twitter users who have signed up for Birdwatch. The idea is to provide clarification; in the pilot program, participants could use a note to explain why a tweet is inaccurate, for instance. If another user thinks a note is wrong, they can add a note of their own. Participants will rate the helpfulness of other Birdwatchers' notes, and eventually, Twitter will be able to prioritize the visibility of notes that were written by users who are highly rated.

"These notes are being intentionally kept separate from Twitter for now, while we build Birdwatch and gain confidence that it produces context people find helpful and appropriate," said Keith Coleman, vice president of products at Twitter. "Additionally, notes will not have an effect on the way people see Tweets or our system recommendations."

It's an interesting approach to a difficult problem. Twitter has struggled with how to handle factually inaccurate tweets, such as those concerning the 2020 presidential election. The strategy Twitter settled on was manually adding warning labels to these tweets. The issue there is that it positions the platform to play the role of fact-checker, and people might reasonably see evidence of political bias in which tweets generate warning labels. Users might also assume—wrongly—that if a tweet does not contain a warning label, it has been deemed accurate by the platform.

The beauty of Birdwatch is that the fact-checking is provided by other users, rather than by Twitter itself. Under this system, there should be no complaints that Twitter has fact-checked X tweet but not Y tweet—that's up to the users, and anyone who doesn't like a note is free to object to it.

These notes don't have to be mere true/false statements, either. Birdwatchers will be encouraged to provide clarity and nuance, and link to articles that support their argument. Again, the accountability comes via this system itself: Users can rate the helpfulness of notes, or add their own.

Here's a video that explains how it works:

 

Fact-checking users' obviously joke statements about whale conspiracies would probably not be the best use of Birdwatch, though as the video makes clear, the system will prompt note-adders to consider whether a tweet is satirical. (And at least in theory, habitually adding pointless notes to joke tweets would perhaps earn a user an "unhelpful" rating.)

In my conversations with Twitter personnel, they freely admitted that they couldn't predict exactly how this will all work out. But they are optimistic that the Twitter community in the aggregate is capable of accurately adjudicating the veracity of tweets. At best, this could outmode the more obnoxious fact-checking done by Twitter itself. At worst—well, it's an interesting science experiment.

In the pilot phase, signups are limited to Twitter users who have not recently violated the terms of service. Those eligible can apply here.

NEXT: Why Don't We Know How Many Vaccine Doses Are Being Thrown Away?

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  2. “On Monday, Twitter debuted a new feature that will allow users to add notes to other people’s tweets. It’s a user-generated fact-checking system, and it’s called Birdwatch.”

    Oh, like a comment and reply system …. that has always existed. If you are still using, citing, or referencing Twitter in a non-ironic manner, you’re a moron.

    1. This was exactly what I was thinking. Twitter is just implementing Reddits comment system.

      If this ends in then Sterling or if the moderating opinions game it will be an improvement though.

      1. Similar to slashdot; I haven’t used either much for several years.

        I especially liked slashdot’s meta-moderation, but would add something else: people should be able to rate moderators for themselves. Flag the ones you want to count and discount for how you see those notes. Don’t just leave it global, or it just turns into a shouting match.

        1. Holy shit! I just checked and slashdot still exists!

          1. fuck off sarcasmic

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          2. Sort of. It kinda died as soon as MSmash starting spamming non tech articles and making it very political.

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        2. Except the system is owned by, and moderated by twitter. So right-wing “fact checking” (fact checking that effectively pushes back against the establishment narrative) will be carefully filtered out.

          This system is going to be worse than useless. See my comment below.

    2. Yeah but you get a ranking based on how shitty or non-shitty of a poster you are. Regular people will be given more weight than say Alex Jones or the orange menace.

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  3. “signups are limited to Twitter users who have not recently violated the terms of service”

    Hmmm…I see a potential for abuse here.

    FACT CHECK: ?

    1. And conveniently, Twitter went way overboard in declaring conservatives violated the terms of service. First we’ll get some volunteers for the death panels, then we’ll let the deplorables reactivate their account.

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  5. Twitter debuted a new feature that will allow users to add notes to other people’s tweets. It’s a user-generated fact-checking system, and it’s called Birdwatch.In the pilot phase, these notes will be available on a separate website rather than Twitter itself though platform……….MORE DETAIL.

  6. Nick Pickles, director of public policy strategy and development at Twitter

    Now, there is a good porn pseudonym.

    1. No, his other job is not in the least porn related, he picks packs of pickled peppers.

      1. FACT CHECK: It may not be true, but it should be.

  7. Jack Dorsey is an astonishingly terrible human being.

    1. I’m not going to weigh in on this until it’s confirmed by Birdwatch.

    2. I’m pretty sure Dorsey doesn’t even run that company any more. He has his billions and the activists on his staff are doing all the major decision making.

    3. I have an essay-length comment in the bag on exactly why this is. With proof and facts to back up my argument.

    4. still better than Trump

  8. This isn’t anything novel or new. It is basically allowing you to create a Meta-Thread on every potential tweet.

    The discussion about up/down voting is interesting, but ultimately fruitless. “Brigading” is a thing. There are reddit boards and other forums dedicated to singling out “disagreeable” content and driving people to inflict some sort of ratio on it.

    At the end of the day, it is important to understand that people among “active” information consumers, there is very little quest for real truth. They are there to confirm their bias and refute anything from outside their bubble. This means “truth” rarely wins out among those people, and the “passive” information consumers remain at the mercy of whomever is amplifying those signals.

    1. What it needs is for people to be able to pick which moderators they want to rely on for rating and ranking notes and tweets.

      1. Awesome! Can’t wait to see Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and Lin Wood fact checking on Birdwatch!

        1. fuck off sarcasmic

    2. This. I don’t see this system fixing things. Ultimately it will be just one more way for users to flag content they find objectionable, which has nothing to do with how factual the content is. It’s the upvote system in reverse. The loudest userbase will win out, and marginalized content will get buried in this note system.

  9. Hmm, I’m dubious about how well it will work out, but I applaud their trying something new.

    1. I’m not water and you got banned Queen Amalthea.

      1. *applause*

        1. What’s applesauce got to do with anything?

    2. They’re not trying anything new. They’re re-hashing an old idea, but except in this case, it’s not a third party hosting the content, it’s Jack Dorsey-approved.

    3. Its not a matter of “trying something new”. Its just a pretty cover for their existing MO. They will soon enough be moderating the moderators, and dumping folks that don’t buy their viewpoints. It is a cover for maintaining the status quo but giving the APPEARANCE of fixing the censorship issues now making them (accurately) look bad.

  10. It should be re-branded “Birdbrain”.

    Now that social media companies are managing content, doesn’t this indicate a shift from being platform providers to content editors, meaning they may now be liable for the content they edit?

    1. They were editors they first time they editorialized. I patiently await the end of Twitter.

  11. Twitter intends to follow up with WindTurbine, to eliminate birdwatchers who come up with the wrong facts.

    1. And then ElectricChainsaw, to eliminate WindTurbine users who aren’t woke anymore.

      1. Then BirdCage. Where you can report your fellow Twittees to the reeducation platform. Le cage aux folles.

    2. Birdbath. To wash away old tweets that no longer fit the narrative as it shifts to the opposite of the previous narrative.

      1. So that’s where some of the Washington Post folks are headed.

    3. how *do* birds hit those things? if something gets in your way, turn!

  12. Twitter pulls the plug on its own life support.

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  14. On Monday, Twitter debuted a new feature that will allow users to add notes to other people’s tweets. It’s a user-generated fact-checking system, and it’s called Birdwatch

    Ahaahahha these fucking idiots reinstitute a comment section and then name it like they’re the Tweet police ahahahahahahah

  15. Isn’t that sort of what Twitter already was?

  16. And by the way, if you are a person who believes that these massive platforms should act more like public squares, then you should shitcan your twitter account. Twitter was perfectly within their rights as a private company to e.g. suppress the New York Post 1 week before the election. But that didn’t make it right.

    Birdwatch is too little too late. Their cancelation sprees indicate that only “acceptable” crowds will be available for them to crowdsource this feedback.

    Twitter is a lost cause- their use right now is as a vulnerable company that can become an example for the other large platforms to consider next time they want to pretend to be a public square while putting their fingers on the scales.

    1. The only people that will miss Twitter are the journalists who might actually have to start doing their jobs again. Burning it to the ground, sowing salt in the ashes, and enslaving the survivors would be a fitting punishment for all the bad they’ve done throughout their execrable existence.

      1. “enslaving the survivors”

        FACT CHECK: Winner of the Hyperbole trophy

        1. Reason is cool with the Carthage solution as long as it’s performed by priVaTe coMpaNIes.

      2. “Burning it to the ground, sowing salt in the ashes, and enslaving the survivors”

        +1

        We would have also accepted, “crushing them, seeing them driven before you, and hearing the lamentation of their women.”

        1. “We would have also accepted”

          No we wouldn’t no one wants to hear women bitching 24/7

          1. Conan was never married. Not really. Or he would have nixed that line.

        2. Except, because it’s Twitter, it would be the lamentation of their self-identified women.

    2. “Twitter was perfectly within their rights as a private company ”

      Call me when private companies can refuse to do business with gays, black people, Catholics, women…

      Until then, stop dragging out the canard that a private business can refuse service to whomever they chose.

      P.S. I think it would be stupid for a company to refuse service to someone because of sexual orientation, or skin color, or religion, or gender. But if you’re gonna say “Private business can refuse whomever they want…” then you’ve gotta mean it.

      1. Go get the 1964 Civil Rights Act amended. (Which, you know, Republicans could have done while they controlled both houses of Congress and the presidency if they’d been willing to abolish the filibuster.)

        1. How about we abolish it altogether and restore freedom to contract with whomever the fuck you want again?

        2. Amended? Who the fuck do you think you are fooling? All anyone needs is a complicit court and the whole thing gets expanded to include any artificial distinction deemed worthy of being a protected class.

    3. I don’t get why you’re so up front about supporting extra legal protections for entities who don’t pass on the protections they receive from said protection.

  17. Fact Check: Your an idiot and your an uggly stupid=head and you shoud just SHUTUP! becuase you dont no nothing about what your are talking about and why dont you just go kill youself you stupid idiot!

  18. That is probably going to be as useful and trustworthy as a Wikipedia article on any subject that is remotely controversial.

    1. Say for example the NYT claim that slaves were brought to Jamestown in 1619?
      Behold the wokepedia:
      (I was researching blacks who owned slaves, and these excerpts are from an article about John Casor)

      At this time (1665), there were only about 300 people of African origin living in the Virginia Colony, about 1% of an estimated population of 30,000. The first group of 20 or so Africans were brought to Jamestown in 1619 as indentured servants. After working out their contracts for passage money to Virginia and completing their indenture, each was granted 50 acres (20 ha) of land (headrights). This enabled them to raise their own tobacco or other crops.

      In one of the earliest freedom suits, Casor argued that he was an indentured servant who had been forced by Anthony Johnson, a free black, to serve past his term; he was freed and went to work for Robert Parker as an indentured servant. Johnson sued Parker for Casor’s services. In ordering Casor returned to his master, Johnson, for life, the court both declared Casor a slave and sustained the right of free blacks to own slaves.

      Rewriting history. Wikipedia style
      I suspect this is an attempt to conflate actual slavery, by force, with a contract of indenture, voluntarily entered into for a period of time.
      This will help blur the blatant lie of slaves being brought to Jamestown in 1619, when the fact is that they were indentured servants who sold their indenture to pay the passage to the new world.
      https:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki /John_Casor
      Interesting note concerning Wikipedia;
      This is the text I captured April 15th.
      At this time (1665), there were only about 300 people of African origin living in the Virginia Colony, about 1% of an estimated population of 30,000. The first group of 20 or so Africans were brought to Jamestown in 1619 as indentured servants. After working out their contracts for passage money to Virginia and completing their indenture, each was granted 50 acres (20 ha) of land (headrights). This enabled them to raise their own tobacco or other crops.
      This is how it now reads
      At this time, there were only about 300 people of African origin living in the Virginia Colony, about 1% of an estimated population of 30,000. The first group of 20 or so Africans were brought to Point Comfort in 1619 as enslaved Africans. After working between 15 and 30 years, most were granted their freedom to purchase land and start their own homestead.
      (this bit has been added)
      Although most historians believe slavery, as an institution, developed much later, they differ on the exact status of their servitude before slavery was established, as well as differing over the date when this took place. The colonial charter entitled English subjects and their children the rights of the common law, but people of other nations were considered foreigners or aliens outside the common law. At the time, the colony had no provision for naturalizing foreigners.

      Welcome to the revolution!

      A bit more – – – –
      The changes were made on October 29, 2020:
      Major restatements were from ‘indentured servant’ to ‘enslaved African’, from ‘Jamestown’ to ‘Point Comfort’ (perhaps to avoid searches including Jamestown? Point Comfort is 40 miles downriver from Jamestown), from ‘granted land’ to ‘granted their freedom to purchase land’ (after serving an indenture, they were free by law, and no granting of the freedom to purchase was needed).
      Here is the link to the edit page
      https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=John_Casor&diff=next&oldid=979332193

  19. Ahhh Twitter will be reenacting the crucible

    1. …and Lord of the Flies.

      1. If “Lord of the Flies” were a novel about a bunch of boys cruelly fighting over which ones get to post 280-character messages on a website.

        1. fuck off sarcasmic

        2. All of them trapped on an island, surrounded by an endless ocean of HO2.

          1. Clap…clap…clap…

        3. Did you wiki that?

  20. Twitter? Who’s Twitter. They are dead to me. A total has been.

    1. Was Twitter ever of any real importance to anyone.

      1. fuck off sarcasmic

  21. When you tweet this article out, I’m going to apply a note about the inclusion of this obviously fake Nick Pickles business.

  22. It seems that in the modern internet era, we have the attention span and memory capacity of a gnat on meth.

    Everyone remember this?

    Dissenter was a browser extension which allowed anyone to comment on any website, and Silicon Valley and the media at large freaked the fuck out because after so many sites began to close their comment sections, they realized that people might still be commenting. So Silicon Valley swooped into action.

    The new bans target Dissenter, a browser extension created by Gab that adds a parallel comment section to any web page on the internet. The decision from the two tech companies makes it harder for people to add Dissenter to their browsers.

    The extension allowed Gab commenters to avoid moderation on the website’s usual comment sections, leaving their posts instead on a separate overlay visible to anyone with the Dissenter plug-in installed in Google’s Chrome or Mozilla’s Firefox. As a result, Dissenter comments often featured the same discussions popular with Gab’s far-right user base: fervent support for Trump and Gamergate-style complaints over perceived “social justice warrior” infiltration of various video games and movies by liberals.

    All this is is a kind of “dissenter” but one owned by and moderated by Twitter. If you “don’t yet know how this will go”, I do. It’s a second Jack Dorsey-moderated layer of censorship, groupthink and pre-approved fact checking that will be dumber than twitter itself.

    1. See, dissenter was a great idea, and if liability and advertisers were the real reason that various websites engaged in moderation, they’d have loved the third party app that took pressure off of them. But it’s all about crushing dissenting opinions, and you can’t do that if people are allowed to speak freely.

  23. My real comment is awaiting moderation.
    I don’t know if that requires a twitter vote or not.

    1. I’m not sure why Reason moderates comments with more than one link. As you can clearly see, the advert bots don’t use multiple links.

      1. Considering the turnaround time for approval, I’m not sure they do either.

        1. I’ve never seen one of my comments approved within the day. So I just gave up on posting multi-link comments.

          1. A year ago, I posted several comments that contained more than one weblink, and received messages claiming each of my comments was being reviewed by a moderator. I don’t think any of those comments have ever been posted.

            1. May as well wait for Godot.

        2. I ran a test a while back. Yes, the message says they are “awaiting moderation” but that moderation never occurs. It’s a way to dump the message as probable spam without giving the real spammers a clue about what they did wrong. Given how much spam gets through anyway, it’s a pretty crappy control.

          Reason will also kill a comment if there’s something that looks like a link but isn’t. Malformed HTML can do that to you so if you’re doing anything more than basic text, be very careful about your HTML.

      2. Ah, is that it? Two links is one link too many?
        It would be nice if there were a facility open to everyone where information like this could be searched.

        1. Yep. I just reposted with some spaces in one of the links.
          TA-DA!

    2. Still awaiting – – – – – –

    3. Still waiting – – – – – – – –

    4. Waiting for the last time – – – – – – – –

      Can anyone from the VC tell me if Reason is guilty of false advertising when it does not actually moderate comments labeled as “awaiting moderation”?

  24. Twitter is just a fucking joke at this point. There’s no chance they can survive their position, short of colluding with other big tech platforms to shut down their competition…. oh wait.

    1. It was cute how Twitter thought they were welcome at the big boys table while they were helping silence Trump. Now that the Democrats run the show, Twitter can piss off back to the sidelines where they belong. If Biden needs the proles to hear anything, the mainstream media will broadcast it word for word. Good riddance.

      1. It must just corrode Jack’s innards to know that Trump was the only thing that kept Twitter relevant.

  25. Quora and Wiki do this so well said nobody who isn’t a leftist.

  26. Nothing like Reason and Soave giving lots of free advertising to Twitter without even mentioning that the company permanently banned Trump and apparently thousands of conservatives.

    1. Commies at unreason are happy about furthering the commie goal of silencing dissent.

      One of Trumps great achievements was he caused so many people to out themselves as actually commies who hiding as “centrists”, libertarians, republicans, and americans.

      Seth rogen cracks me up because he is canadian and he hates america not being communist like canada is. Rogen came out as communist and cant understand why americans ignore him now.

  27. user-generated “fact”-checking system

    50 million Elvis fans Twitter followers…

  28. I thought this was Twitter. You post something then everyone who disagrees tries to smear you & rip you a new asshole.

  29. “Participants will rate the helpfulness of other Birdwatchers’ notes, and eventually, Twitter will be able to prioritize the visibility of notes that were written by users who are highly rated.”

    This will just result in emphasizing which views are more popular with Twitters user base…not which ones are more accurate.

    At this point, no one with a brain trusts Twitter, Google of Facebook…. nor should they.

  30. >>”People on Twitter desire to be part of the conversation,”

    anonymous texting totes conversation.

  31. This “fact-checking” model has been implemented dozens of times on different platforms. It hasn’t succeeded anywhere. But, sure, let’s try it again and see if we get magically different result.

    This will just polarize twitter users even more than they already are. Up and down votes become “I agree with the outcome” regardless of the actual facts behind it. It will be fine for non-controversial topics like sports scores. It will provide no useful value for controversial topics like climate change, religion or politics.

    I suppose it could be a back-door play for Twitter to get out of the “fact-checking” business entirely. Most of the user-review mechanisms tried by other platforms have died and either been replaced or ignored by users. If intentional, this isn’t a bad way for Twitter to save face.

  32. Phase 1: Ban and censor those with opposing arguments.

    Phase 2: Allow remaining biased fact checkers to give false credibility to the propaganda.

    1. The commies are trying cover up the fact that they are not as powerful as they think they are.

      Americans Voting by wallet has financially hit sports, hollywood, lefty MsM, and now social media platforms. These companies are trying to recover from their slow death of a thousand cuts.

  33. Commies at unreason still use twatter. Hahahaha.

  34. How long will it take for the Twit poohbahs to begin “correcting” the correctors to stealthily maintain the appearance of their desire to preserve the status quo.
    This is a whole lot like that ol’ Politicans Potato Soup Woodie Guthrie sang about back in the 1930’s. That soup reminded him of “summa them thar Paul a Tish Uns.and their promises…. “so thin ya could see raght THROO it.”

  35. Twitter Unveils ‘Birdwatch,’ a New Platform Where Users Troll Hatefully.

  36. LOL, Twitter wants to justify censoring political viewpoint. Its not true vs false its favors Democrats vs doesn’t Favor Democrats

  37. CCP Biden’s first days as President prove he was lying to America all along. Click here

  38. Birdwatch is nothing but an exercise in mob rule. All Dorsey is doing is absolving himself from the negative personal ramifications of censoring speech while transferring that burden to the mob. Cancel culture will only get larger and louder under this scheme. This isn’t a solution. The only solution is to let words fall where they may, and be an adult about it even if you vehemently disagree.

    1. Mob rule based on violating 1a

  39. Robby Soave, incurious and gullible.

    Shocking!

  40. Slashdot did it better 20 years ago

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