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  • MaryGrace Lerin

Twitter Releases Enhanced Labels for Potential Misinformation in Tweets

Twitter is now launching enhanced labels for misinformation, with varied messaging for different types of possibly inaccurate content within tweets, after conducting an initial test of new alert forms in July.

The new labels, as seen here, will now be presented with distinct messages and alert colors to offer more detail and help explain why each tweet has been reported.

Twitter claims that its initial misinformation tags, which were introduced in February of last year, were critiqued for being too small and vague, which is why it's updated the format and ensured that it's carrying out it's part effectively to make people aware of inaccurate statements that mostly don't violate its guidelines.

The results have been favorable in testing over the last few months, with the new format accessible to some users on the web version of the app:

“In our tests, the new design increased the clickthrough rate on labels by 17%, from 3% to 3.5%. This number might sound low, but in many contexts, a 2% clickthrough rate is considered exceptionally good. The new label design also decreased shares by 10%, and decreased likes by 15%. Reducing sharing and engagement helps keep misleading content from propagating across Twitter.”

While Facebook has taken the majority of the blame for the spread of misinformation and manipulation on social media, Twitter has also played a role, with several research papers indicating that detrimental misinformation trends typically start on the platform before migrating to other platforms.

Some of this can be credited to bot activity; for example, in the aftermath of the 2016 US election, researchers discovered "massive, interconnected Twitter bot networks" attempting to influence political discussion, the largest of which included over 500,000 bogus accounts. Bot profiles dominated political news streams in 2019, according to a Wired investigation, with bot accounts providing up to 60% of tweet activity around some significant events, while a network of Twitter bots was discovered spreading false claims about the Australian bushfire crisis early last year, intensifying anti-climate change conspiracy theories in objection to proven facts.

Although Twitter has a smaller user base, its effect appears to be less substantial, but many of the most dedicated news consumers and conspiracy theorists utilize it to keep up with the latest developments. They then share that information with other networks, thus even though Twitter only has 211 million daily active users compared to Facebook's 1.9 billion, it still plays an important role in spreading both positive and negative information.

As a result, it's critical for Twitter to take whatever actions it can to combat potentially dangerous misinformation.

No doubt, the question of who determines what is deemed misinformation resurfaces, but Twitter, in collaboration with fact-checking organizations, is taking the proper steps towards improving its fact-checking alerts and initiatives.

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