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Twitter's testing labels to fight misinformation

After recently launching tags to signify manipulated media in tweets, Twitter is now also considering new labels for identified misinformation, with large tags on 'harmfully misleading' reports, and links to reference material to cross-check.

As explained by NBC News:

"In this version, disinformation or misleading information posted by public figures would be corrected directly beneath a tweet by fact-checkers and journalists who are verified on the platform and possibly by other users who would participate in a new "community reports" feature, which the demo claims is "like Wikipedia."

As noted here, this is just one of possible variations of the tag which Twitter is testing, and none of them might ever make it through to live roll-out. But it's an interesting look at how Twitter is seeking to address the spread of misinformation, which has become a key focus of debate in respect to the use of social media for political campaigning.

And while the addition would likely help to reduce the amount of retweets and reshares of such, on Twitter specifically, research has suggested that it's more about bots than it is straight fake information, with armies of bot accounts being used to amplify certain messaging in order to make it seem more credible and pressing than it actually is.

In the wake of the 2016 US Election, for example, researchers uncovered "huge, inter-connected Twitter bot networks", with the largest of them incorporating some 500,000 fake accounts. Those networks were found, predominantly, to be retweeting pro-Trump messages, thereby increasing his share of voice, and boosting his messages over his opponents. More recently, a network of Twitter bots was found to be spreading misinformation about the Australian bushfire crisis, amplifying anti-climate change conspiracy theories in opposition to established facts.

Twitter has also introduced plans to address this aspect, with a new checkmark to highlight identified bot accounts (the below is a mock-up, not indicative of what Twitter itself is working on).

But thus far, there's be no further movement on this.

If Twitter could find a better way to address bots, that would likely have a bigger impact, while the addition of fact-check markers on misinformation would add to its governance processes.

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