After launching an initial test of new alert formats back in July, Twitter is now introducing its own improved labels for misinformation, with changeable messages for different types of potentially misleading elements within tweets.
As you can see here, the new tags will now be displayed with different messages and alert colors, to provide more context and to better explain why each tweet is tagged.
Twitter says its initial misinformation labels were posted in February last year, has been criticized for being too little and too vague, which has moved it to update the format and ensure it does its part, where possible, to make users aware of misleading claims that do not otherwise violate its guidelines.
In testing over the last few months, with an updated format available to some users on the web version of the app, the results are positive:
“In our tests, the new design increased the clickthrough rate on labels by 17%, from 3% to 3.5%. This number may sound low, but in many contexts, a click rate of 2% is considered extremely good. The new label design also reduced stocks by 10% and likes by 15%. Reducing sharing and engagement helps prevent the spread of deceptive content on Twitter.”
While Facebook has borne the brunt of criticism for spreading misinformation and manipulation on social media, Twitter has also played its part, with various investigative reports showing that harmful disinformation trends often originate from the platform, before spreading to other networks.
Much is attributed to bot activity – iafter the 2016 US elections for example, researchers discovered “huge, interconnected Twitter networks of robots“seeking to influence political discussion, with the largest including some 500,000 fake orders. Investigation by Wired in 2019 showed that bot profiles dominate political news streams, with bot accounts contributing up to 60% of tweet activity around some major events, while early last year it was found that the Twitter bot network was spreading misinformation about the fire crisis in Australia, reinforcing conspiracy theories against climate change as opposed to established facts.
As Twitter is smaller in terms of total users, its impact is seemingly less significant, but many of the most active news consumers and conspiracy theorists remain in touch with the latest updates via tweet. They then aggregate that information to other networks – so even though Twitter alone may have only 211 million daily active users, compared to Facebook’s 1.9 billion, it still plays a key role in disseminating information, both positively and negatively.
That’s why it’s important for Twitter to take steps to address potentially harmful misinformation.
Of course, the criticism then goes back to who decides what is misinformation and what is not, but Twitter, in partnership with fact-checking groups, is taking the right steps here to improve its warnings and fact-checking efforts.
Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.