Twitter is likely to roll-out a new feature that would put a bright orange badge under any political tweet found to be misleading, or containing misinformation. This was revealed in a leaked design mockup obtained by NBC News on February 20, 2020. While there’s no set date on when the feature will be launched, Twitter told NBC News that it is part of one of the possible new policies to target misinformation on the platform, however, no date has been announced for its roll-out.
The badge would appear under the tweets by public figures that are flagged, fact-checked and corrected by independent fact-checkers, verified journalists and other individuals participating in the “community report” feature on the platform. This new feature will employ a publicly-sourced information model “like Wikipedia” with independent entities being the moderators of speech.
A Twitter spokesperson tells NBC News, “We’re exploring a number of ways to address misinformation and provide more context for tweets on Twitter.” They added, “Misinformation is a critical issue and we will be testing many different ways to address it.”
In November 2019, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced the decision to ban political ads on the microblogging website in order to control the promotion of misinformation on it during the US Presidential Elections in late 2020. Again, in January 2020, Twitter announced its plan to block tweets that share synthetic or manipulated media, also known as deep fakes.
Twitter has been proactively engaging in adopting policies that could control the spread of false information on its platform, and the possible introduction of the new feature to flag “harmfully misleading” tweets as such is part of its larger efforts to curb this false news.
As it appears in the leaked demo of the new feature, the badge is the same size as the original tweet and is bright orange in color in order for it to be clearly visible to anyone engaging with the marked tweet.
The demo suggests the feature has a scoring system where the more a user employs credible and critically analysed information to identify misleading content, the more they will earn points, and hence more credibility. This particular feature is adopted in order to prevent political party representatives, supporters or trolls from becoming the moderators of the said content when they increasingly differ from the broader community that has marked any tweet false or misleading.
Misinformation on social media played a significant role in meddling with the last Presidential Elections in the US in 2016, resulting in social media companies increasingly becoming aware of the power they hold in affecting events that are supposed to be independent and democratic. Where Twitter is actively adopting new sets of rules to ban or control its involvement in spreading harmful information closer to the US elections in November 2020, Facebook on the other hand has refused to moderate any political ads on its platform, whereas, Google is introducing stringent policies to moderate each political ad on its platforms.