Fact-checking on Twitter

Fact-checking on Twitter

In one of the multitudes of steps that social media platforms are taking to fight the spread of misinformation, Twitter recently announced that its crowd-funded project designed to combat misinformation, titled Birdwatch, would be expanding.

‘Twitter announced the project as a pilot program last year, and it allowed contributors that already have a good relationship with the social media platform to address any tweets they find misleading.

Birdwatch Program

These contributors could also provide context to the misleading tweets in the form of a note. The program started with about 10,000 contributors, and all of the notes that they created showed up on a separate testing website.

However, according to Twitter’s latest announcement, a small and randomly selected group of people on the platform would be able to see and read those notes directly on the Twitter app.

For one of those notes to show up in a tweet, it first needs to be rated as helpful by a number of contributors to the project that have different perspectives.

Additionally, due to Twitter’s latest partnership with The Associated Press and Reuters, the quality of the notes from the project is also going to be assessed with feedback from both of these news outlets.

Twitter’s Changes

This change from Twitter is coming in an era of an unprecedented amount of misinformation that is being shared on social media. Twitter has a long-standing issue with misinformation on its platform, which is why the Birdwatch program was developed.

According to the company, the decision to expand this project to include a small number of random users was based on surveys with users that gave the company promising results. The company also got feedback from academic researchers as well as its pilot contributors.

According to the information that Twitter got from the project, users were 20 to 40% less likely to agree with the content of a tweet that’s potentially misleading after reading a note about it, compared to when users simply saw the tweet without seeing any notes.

With this project as well as other features that Twitter has been introducing, the company is trying to be proactive in combating the spread of misinformation and disinformation on its platform.

The Effect of Misinformation on Businesses

The spread of misinformation can easily put companies under the watchful eye of the public and on the receiving end of criticism.

That’s why it’s important for companies to utilize social listening strategies, to keep track of the different conversations that are happening about them by users on social media. This will help companies get ahead of any potentially negative situation.

With the help of social listening, whenever a company spots misinformation about its brand or its solutions, it can quickly jump into the conversation, clarify and correct the information that’s being shared, and avoid a potential PR crisis.


Ronn Torossian is the founder of 5W Public Relations, a native New Yorker and an advocate for many non-profit organizations.