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  • MaryGrace Lerin

Birdwatch Contributors Can Now Use Aliases in Their Reports on Twitter

Birdwatch contributors can now make reports under an alias, using Twitter's randomly created bird-related aliases, as part of the company's 'Birdwatch' crowd-sourced misinformation detection initiative.

Birdwatch allows program participants to post remarks on dubious tweets, potentially assisting in the detection of misinformation or other forms of harmful content. Twitter hopes to leverage this larger pool of reports to further its attempts to stamp out harmful content and stay ahead of misuse that its detection algorithms might otherwise overlook.

And, as seen here, users interested in participating in the Birdwatch program will be able to list their contributions under a pseudonym, such as 'Terrific Cavern Canary,' rather than their actual @handle, which may make people feel more at ease.

According to Twitter:

“We know that not everyone feels comfortable contributing under their @handle. From our most active contributors to prospective participants, people overwhelmingly voiced a preference for contributing under aliases.”

Which stands to reason: you don't want to unknowingly enrage some internet troll because of your Birdwatch reports, which would likely influence how contributors now post, or don't post, when they come across questionable reports.

This inclination was stronger among women and black contributors, according to Twitter, but research has indicated that aliases have the ability to lessen bias by focusing more on the content of each note rather than the author.

Furthermore, Twitter has announced the launch of Birdwatch profile pages, which will make it easy to see each contributor's previous notes and alerts, allowing users to track activity even if they don't have their personal @handle associated with each report.

It's a modest but important improvement to the Birdwatch process that could help to increase the number of user reports filed, while also allowing full transparency into previous reports in case someone tries to abuse the opportunity to fraudulently flag tweets.

It's still too soon to tell if Birdwatch will be beneficial. The approach has appeal in terms of expanding the pool of prospective monitors of questionable tweet content, but how informative and meaningful such reports will be, and the possibility of misuse or misunderstanding of the process, is another factor to consider.

However, it could be a useful addition to the platform's greater detection scope, and alias accounts could be a significant feature that expands utilization.

Birdwatch is only available in the United States at the moment; more information about the program can be found here.

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