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25 Jan, 2021 22:47

'Hall monitors' for social media? Twitter launches new 'Birdwatch' program, enlisting users to help hunt down 'misleading' speech

'Hall monitors' for social media? Twitter launches new 'Birdwatch' program, enlisting users to help hunt down 'misleading' speech

Twitter has launched a new feature, called "Birdwatch," that relies on users of the social media platform to identify content that they deem misleading and post notes to provide "informative context" on the topic.

"We believe this approach has the potential to respond quickly when misleading information spreads, adding context that people trust and find valuable," Twitter Vice President Keith Coleman said on Monday.

Birdwatch is starting out as a pilot project in the US only. During the pilot's first phase, notes will only be visible on a separate Birdwatch website, where participants can rate the helpfulness of the user comments. Coleman said the company aims to eventually make notes visible directly on tweets, across all parts of the world, when there is consensus "from a broad and diverse set of contributors."

Twitter has invited users to apply to become participants in the pilot project. They will be able to flag tweets with suspected misinformation through a drop-down menu.

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However, many who have watched the company ramp up censorship of their voices and have seen similarly crowd-sourced information sources, such as Wikipedia, manipulated – expressed skepticism over how alleged misinformation will be judged.

"Twitter is the last company I would trust to tell me what misinformation was," journalist Barrett Wilson said.

Media critic Mark Dice called the initiative "Twitter hall monitors" and said it was "another reason to join Gab.com." Journalist Alex Rubinstein tweeted: "You too can be a Twitter cop." He added that the "reply button" already gives users the opportunity to dispute the accuracy of a message, and the new program is meant to "marginalize alternative voices and encourage snitching."

Censorship proponents looked on Birdwatch more favorably. Brandy Zadrozny, an NBC News reporter who has bragged about doxing supporters of former President Donald Trump, called the new Twitter initiative "potentially cool."

Fox News contributor Sara Carter said she would like to join Twitter's latest effort to fight misinformation. "I'll go first," she said. "Ban [Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei's account."

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