You may have noticed the issues surrounding validity of information on social media lately. In recent years, public pressure has lead to social media brands reconsidering and reworking their platforms. With the growing need to stay on top of disinformation, Twitter is rolling out new ideas and policies to combat “fake news.” 

When did it start?

Misinformation has always been an issue around politics and the media especially. Since the 2016 presidential election, though, disinformation has skyrocketed and become a global concern. 

News outlets, politicians, media sources and more have all contributed to providing the public with misleading, skewed or incorrect information. And as more tensions arise within politics, the pressure on social media platforms to provide correct information grows. 

Twitter recently announced its plan regarding manipulated media on the platform. It prevents users from posting information, photos, videos and audio that are “deceptively altered or fabricated.” This way, users can’t share Tweets that have misleading information that could lead to any form of deception or harm. 

Their plan comes at the same time as a manipulated video of former vice president Joe Biden. The White House social media director, Dan Scavino, shared a video of Biden saying, “We can only reelect Donald Trump.” Trump then retweeted this video on his account.

However, Twitter soon marked it with a banner underneath the video that read: “Manipulated media.” This is because the video is fragmented and doesn’t include the second half of Biden’s sentence. He factually said, “We can only reelect Donald Trump if, in fact, we get engaged in this circular firing squad here.”

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Trump’s retweet manipulates the audience into believing something Biden didn’t say. Twitter accordingly labeled the video afterward. But this incident comes around the time of more developments from Twitter.

What’s happening now?

The blue label at the bottom of the Tweet or media draws attention to the content and its credibility. But Twitter is working on different labels for other misinforming Tweets. 

Recently leaked, Twitter’s concept for banners that label misinforming Tweets has started spreading. It entails bright orange labels attached to the original Tweet. These labels contain a warning regarding the content and how it’s “harmfully misleading.” 

This comes at the most drastic end of the spectrum, though. Should this policy come to fruition, it would entail Twitter moderators investigating Tweets that users report. 

Users would select options like “likely,” “unlikely” or “harmfully misleading” in terms of the content of the Tweet. They would also use a sliding scale from 1-100 to predict the percentage of other users that would rate the Tweet in the same way. Fact-checkers would also be looking into claims and Tweets. 

The scale of this task would be a daily feat. There are approximately 500 million Tweets per day, so a portion of that would involve investigating claims and fact-checking. 

Since content moderation can run into many debates and issues, the community aspect can ease some of the adjustments. The policy would ask that users operate in good faith and may reward those who do with community badges or points. However, the logistics of the process still aren’t fully clear. 

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With these bright warning signs, users would be able to see other community members’ comments clarifying or correcting the original content. This could potentially aid in overall communications as misinformation can lead to things like celebrity lawsuits based on outspokenness on Twitter.

Since it was a leak, this idea is still preliminary but could be the change for accountability users need. 

Where will it go from here?

Twitter commented on the leak and stated that the company is developing many ideas and policies that deal with disinformation, so nothing is final yet. 

The orange banners, though, are significantly more attention-grabbing than the blue labels at the bottoms of the Tweets. The orange labels are big, bright and in a location where you can easily spot them. The blue labels are smaller, so you may miss them when scrolling. 

Twitter hasn’t commented if the orange labels would replace the blue ones or accompany them. With the 2020 election approaching, though, Twitter is working on developments for the upcoming misinformed terrain. 

So, are these labels enough? It will depend on how Twitter implements and handles the misinformation. 

However, a development like this has the potential to help the people. The public could find the facts and hold those who post disinformation accountable.


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