In an effort to combat fake accounts, false stories and other abuses, Twitter is considering the use of a new feature to let users flag Tweets that contain misleading, false or harmful information, according to news reports.
Sources said the feature—which could appear in a drop-down menu next to Tweets—remains in the prototype phase and no decision has been made about its use. The social media site did not confirm the reports, with a spokesperson telling The Washington Post that the company had “no current plans to launch” such a feature but declining to comment on whether it was in the testing phase.
Twitter, in a blog post last month, indicated its intent to push back against abuse, writing that it was adding personnel and resources as well as working on new tools and processes. “Twitter’s job is to keep people informed about what’s happening in the world,” Vice President of Policy Colin Crowell wrote. “As such, we care deeply about the issue of misinformation and its potentially harmful effect on the civic and political discourse that is core to our mission.”
The company was light on details but noted that it is “working hard to detect spammy behaviors at source, such as the mass distribution of Tweets or attempts to manipulate trending topics,” and reducing the visibility of suspicious Tweets or accounts pending an investigation to determine whether a policy violation has occurred. When duplicative or suspicious activity is confirmed, “we suspend accounts,” Crowell noted. “We’ve been doubling down on our efforts.”
Twitter is not alone in its battle against the proliferation of “fake news.” Earlier this year, Facebook released a new tool that allows users to click on a button to dispute content they think might be false. If enough users click on the “dispute” button, the story is then sent to independent fact-checkers.
To read the Twitter blog post, click here.
Why it matters: Social media sites are struggling in their attempts to push back against the phenomenon of fake news, and they have resorted to crowdsourcing the fight, as demonstrated by the tool released by Facebook and reportedly being tested by Twitter. But critics have expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of such possible tools, and have expressed concerns that users could manipulate the system.