Twitter announced on Monday that they would be implementing a new feature into their application called “Birdwatch,” a new addition designed to reduce the spread of "misleading information" by allowing users to add "notes" of context to tweets they believe to be misleading.
Twitter explained how the "community-driven" feature should work in a recent blog post:
“Birdwatch allows people to identify information in Tweets they believe is misleading and write notes that provide informative context. We believe this approach has the potential to respond quickly when misleading information spreads, adding context that people trust and find valuable. Eventually we aim to make notes visible directly on Tweets for the global Twitter audience, when there is consensus from a broad and diverse set of contributors.
In this first phase of the pilot, notes will only be visible on a separate Birdwatch site. On this site, pilot participants can also rate the helpfulness of notes added by other contributors. 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. Additionally, notes will not have an effect on the way people see Tweets or our system recommendations.”
In order to use the feature, users must verify that they are real people and not a bot.
These "notes" will initially be kept off of Twitter, but could eventually make their way directly on a person's tweet. These notes are different than replies because once they are voted on and confirmed to be "helpful," the note will be attached to the tweet, rather than included somewhere below it in the comment thread. Twitter also released a tweet with a video showing the new feature:
Unfortunately, due to Twitter's flagging and outright censoring of tweets posted by many right-wing users, it’s hard to believe that this feature will have a balanced effect on users on both sides of the political spectrum. If the new feature simply serves as another way for liberal Twitter users to gang up on and cancel the speech of conservative users, I doubt anyone will be surprised.