Talks about ‘Birdwatch’ first began in August when reverse engineer Jane Manchun Wong spotted it on the website. It didn’t have a name back then, but it was clear that the feature will let moderators flag a tweet and add notes to it.
Twitter updated its website shortly after Wong’s discovery, and then a similar code was spotted on the iOS beta app. The company has confirmed the feature as an attempt to control misinformation and add context to the tweets. It isn’t clear how Birdwatch on Twitter will exactly work, but it is speculated to be a crowdsourced method of moderation.
Birdwatch On Twitter
To start with, the name Birdwatch is on-point for a moderation system on Twitter. The social media giant has been active in moderating misinformation lately. They even went as far as to flag US President Trump’s tweet to a fact-check.
Going by Wong’s early discovery and the iOS version of the feature unveiled by Matt Navarra, we have some idea of how this will work. The feature will bring an ‘Add to Birdwatch’ button to the menu from where you can access the ‘report’ and ‘block’ functions.
It’ll also add a binocular icon near the bottom-right corner of every tweet. This would let moderators add notes and view the notes added by other moderators. Twitter Birdwatch is likely to add more context to otherwise misleading posts via crowdsourced moderation.
Crowdsourcing isn’t new to Twitter. The platform uses it to moderate its Periscope, its live-streaming app. However, the seamless working of crowdsourcing is an issue of concern when we talk about applying to Twitter. Let’s say if everyone gets Birdwatch, parts of Twitter may see thousands of annotations or notes on a single tweet.
There’s also a possibility of trolls messing with citizen moderation. Also, what if trolls, or even the general public flags a tweet too many times? So far, there are no details on how it’s going to work, but since it’s in the pipeline, we might as well wait for the implementation.