Twitter is working to expand the use of its “misinformation” labels on misleading tweets. The company has developed a new feature, not yet live, that would pop up a “misleading information” label when a user tries to “Like” a tweet that’s been labeled as misinformation.
The feature was discovered by reverse engineer Jane Manchun Wong in the Twitter app code. She confirms the addition doesn’t prevent a user from continuing to “Like” the tweet, however — it just slows you down.
A similar warning appears today when users attempt to retweet posts labeled as containing misinformation.
This new feature would fall in line with other measures Twitter has been taking to slow the spread of misinformation on its service, including a recent change to how retweets work. On October 20, 2020, Twitter began to prompt anyone who goes to retweet something to share a quote tweet instead.
The added bit of friction is meant to help users pause and think about what they’re amplifying, as did the change which pushed users to click through and actually read the content they’re sharing.
In addition, Twitter also rolled out a series of new policies ahead of Election Day in the U.S., to further guide its handling of misleading tweets. Beyond just labeling misinformation, it applied more aggressive warnings and restrictions on tweets from U.S. political figures, including candidates and campaign accounts, as well as other U.S.-based accounts that met certain thresholds in terms of followers, or tweet engagements.
Warnings were placed over tweets claiming premature victory, and had been designed largely in response to Trump’s broad hints that he would not easily concede. But use of these aggressive warnings may dwindle in the weeks and months ahead, given that Trump’s legal challenges do not look promising.
Though the election may have highlighted the problem with misinformation to a greater degree than usual, it remains a significant problem for today’s social platforms to address. There are now a number of users who don’t want to deal in facts, resorting to even calling fact-checking organizations biased against them. It’s unclear that any user interface tweaks at this point can help solve this problem.
Twitter says it tries to deamplify misinformation today by not allowing those labeled, misleading tweets to appear in Search or injected into users’ Timelines (if they don’t follow the account). But those tweets can still be replied to, liked and retweeted.
Twitter confirmed the feature spotted by Wong is in development, but did not have a time frame to its rollout.
“Our goal is to give people the context and tools necessary to find credible information on our service — no matter the topic or where they are seeing the Tweet,” a Twitter spokesperson said. “This is an iterative process, and we’re continuing to explore features and policies to help people on Twitter make their own informed decisions.”