Something interesting or noteworthy happens every day. Thanks to social media platforms like Twitter, people can learn about these close to real-time. For instance, people were notified of the 2017 Las Vegas Mass Shooting because of a Tweet. A user posted the said Tweet about 10 minutes after the first shots began and while shots were still being fired. That’s how fast news travels on the network.
On a similar note, the death of George Floyd wouldn’t have been a controversy if no one posted the video on social media. Likewise, words on social media alerted the world of the dangers the COVID-19 virus could bring, even before its worldwide spread.
Those are only a few samples of how social media platforms like Twitter can be used to spread awareness. They are fantastic tools people can use to disseminate relevant information.
Unfortunately, the rapid proliferation of information on these platforms could be harmful too. There is fake news and misleading information. People who make baseless assumptions create these. Either that or they simply have malicious intentions. They then post these on Twitter for other people to see. Then, the misinformed people will share them with friends and family – who will continue passing it on. It sets a chain reaction. And the nature of social media platforms allows them to spread like wildfire. Once the misleading information has garnered a substantial amount of believers, things could get out of hand.
Think of the COVID-19 situation. There have been accounts of people introducing bogus remedies or spreading myths. Then came the vaccines – along with conspiracy theories revolving around them. This spread of fake news is a nuisance – it makes things more difficult than it already is. Therefore, it needs to be stopped.
Twitter Wants Fake News Out Of Its Platform
Twitter is a place for public conversations, and it prides itself on that. As much as possible, the company wants the discussions that occur on the platform to be healthy and progressive. That’s why it cannot tolerate the spread of fake news and misleading information. The company has launched various efforts to combat this problem.
Recently, Twitter excitedly announced a new program in an official blog post. It was on August 2, 2021, that the social media giant revealed it is partnering with news organizations Reuters and The Associated Press. These are two of the largest international news providers. They will help Twitter identify and elevate credible information. Through this partnership, Twitter will enable users to find reliable information from trustworthy sources quickly.
It is not the first time Twitter collaborated with news sites to promote accurate information. Similarly, it is not the first time for both Reuters and AP to work with social media networks. They both work on fact checks on Facebook.
Although there is a common goal – Twitter will still work separately with the two rival news agencies.
The blog post also stated that they would focus on English-language content at the initial phase of this program.
How Twitter Surfaces Credible Information And Context Before The Partnership
As mentioned above, Twitter already has existing efforts that help combat misinformation. It is just reinforcing those.
To help people make informed decisions about what they see on Twitter, Twitter’s Curation team sources and elevate relevant context from reliable sources. They always do this when rapidly growing conversations may be controversial, sensitive, or may contain potentially misleading information.
These added contexts will appear all over Twitter, ensuring that people interested in the subject will see them. This is how they will surface:
- In Trends:
Twitter lists the top trends to keep users informed of what users are talking about at the moment. However, in the past, that’s the only thing users get from Trends. According to Twitter, the question “why is this trending?” has been tweeted half a million times. So, the company decided to attach additional context in Trends. It could come in the form of a Tweet, a Moment, or a written description.
- In The Explore Tab
The explore tab is where you’ll see a batch of content curated just for you. Content in the Explore tab will vary depending on your location and settings. But no matter the content, it is where you can catch up to what’s happening right now.
You will see three sections: For You, Trending, and News, Fun, Sports, Entertainment tabs. The News section includes Moments created by Twitter and trusted news organizations.
- In Search Results
Certain keywords pre-determined by Twitter will show relevant content at the top of the results. The content is sourced from trusted resources or Moments that debunk misinformation.
- In Prompts from new and old Twitter Followers
During elections, public health emergencies, and other highest visibility events, Twitter will provide prompts that link to a PSA Moment. People often buy Twitter followers to help spread misinformation.
In some cases, Tweets that have violated Twitter’s rules regarding misinformation may still be visible on the platform. To stop them from causing any more trouble, Twitter adds a label. The label links to a Moment with informative context on the topic or to the Twitter Rules.
How The Partnership With Reuters And AP Will Help Expand These Efforts
The joint work of Twitter and the news giants will help Twitter’s Curation teams increase its capacity to add reliable context to conversations. It will make the process more streamlined.
Twitter will be able to make “credible information available in real-time around key conversations as they emerge on Twitter.” That will increase and improve context sharing on the platform. Moreover, the collaborations will allow Twitter to anticipate and proactively identify emerging conversations. With that, it can provide context as the topic garners attention. Compared to waiting for someone to go viral before they could act, that is a huge improvement.
Last, the partnership with Reuters and AP will help in improving the effectiveness of product features such as Birdwatch. The additional credible context will help make the product experimentation exponentially easier.
Twitter says that this is just the start. “We are committed to continuing our work to elevate credible information and context,” it said in a statement.