- Twitter announced that it will test a new feature that will prompt to encourage users to read an article before sharing.
- The new feature will only appear for U.S based Android devices for now.
- As per the Twitter Support team, the platform will only check if the user has clicked the article link on Twitter and not anywhere else on the internet.
- Twitter aims to empower healthy and informed public discussions with this new feature.
Twitter to experiment with a new feature that prompts users to read articles before sharing, is the latest effort to curb the spread of misinformation on the platform.
Sharing an article can spark conversation, so you may want to read it before you Tweet it.
To help promote informed discussion, we're testing a new prompt on Android –– when you Retweet an article that you haven't opened on Twitter, we may ask if you'd like to open it first.
— Support (@Support) June 10, 2020
Twitter product lead Kayvon Beykpour commented upon the announcement of the feature testing,
“It’s easy for links [and] articles to go viral on Twitter. This can be powerful but sometimes dangerous, especially if people haven’t read the content they’re spreading. This feature (on Android for now) encourages people to read a linked article prior to retweeting it.”
This Is An Old Ongoing Problem
The problem of users sharing news based on headlines is not new. A 2016 study from computer scientists at Columbia University and Microsoft found that 59% – nearly two-thirds of links posted on Twitter by users are shared without opening the articles.
During the pandemic, the social media giant has issued many misinformation warnings to curb the spread of any fake news -that includes one against the U.S President Donald Trump. This move led to Trump issuing executive orders targeting social media companies.
Will It Impact The Bots?
Twitter has tried many times before to spot the spread of misinformation. Like Facebook and other social media platforms, it has come scrutiny for the content it promotes.
Twitter’s solution is not banning retweets but tries to nudge the users to rethink their actions on the social network. Recently, in May it launched a feature that allowed users to limit who can reply to their tweets. It also rolled out another feature to hide specific replies to tweets.
However, the main problem is ‘bots’. According to a paper published in AAAI, “Increasing evidence suggests that a growing amount of social media content is generated by autonomous entities known as social bots.”
For instance, recently, new research reported that roughly half of the twitter accounts that discussed ‘Reopen America’ were bots. The AAAI paper also estimated that between 9%-15% of active Twitter accounts exhibit social bots behavior – nearly 49.5 million of its 330 million users. This new feature will impact the bots and might make it difficult to retweet any content.
- President Trump signed an executive order that aimed to scrap the legal protections conformed for social media.
- He is arguing that if social media companies seek protection from the fact that they cannot control what users post, then they shouldn’t intervene with those posts either.
The battle between Trump and Twitter finally came to a peak. President Trump signed an executive order to narrow legal protection to social media platforms that censors speech for ideological reasons.
Strict action will be taken against Facebook, Twitter, Google, Youtube, and other platforms that interfere in direct communication with his followers. The orders give federal regulators the right to take action against online platforms if they are censoring free speech.
What it does
His executive orders call for greater scrutiny of social media platforms by limiting or revoking Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a piece of a 1996 law.
Section 230 is essential and made sense when it was first introduced when the internet was new. Section 230 gives protection to the digital world. In simple terms, if users post pictures or comments that are defamatory, the operator is not responsible for it but the user and actions will be taken against the user. Without Section 230, the internet that we know now wouldn’t exist. Twitter, Airbnb, Google, Facebook, Trip advisor all depend on this protection for their business. Every internet third party leverages Section 230 to mitigate risks.
Why it matters: The move comes just days after Twitter fact-checked and labeled two of President Trump’s tweet inaccurate.
The tech giants move infuriated Trump and gave him a reason to execute his long time plan of reducing the liability of social media giants for content on their platform. Even though the idea of dismantling Section 230 is a threat to internet companies but many legal experts believe that it’s unlikely that the orders will have a practical impact on tech giants.
What changes with the order
Section 230 is an immunity to social media giants and protects them from being liable for the content billions of people post everyday.
- One of the repercussions of the order on the social media companies is stripping away the protections granted to them.
- It can be the death of an online review system that covers consumer products or services in travel, hotel, airlines, car, or others. For instance, Trip advisor boasts of 860 million reviews and could potentially be sued by U.S Federal courts for statements made by online critics if the protections are diluted.
- Social media platforms may either censor everything in the fear of getting sued that would undermine the freedom of speech as pointed out in the executive order.
- Or they might just not regulate or touch anything under the fear of getting sued, then the free speech problem will be out of control with no moderation.
- A troubling landscape for small and medium-sized media companies as they will not be able to afford staff and lawyer services leading to shut down.
- There will be no moderation over disruptive content like child exploitation over the fear of getting sued.
- Jeff Kosseff, who wrote a book about Section 230, says to Marketplace that we have no idea what the internet might look like without this regulation.
What are they saying
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg took a different tack and called out Twitter for its fact-checking and said they are not ‘arbiters of truth.’ the company will not get into any political fray.
“We’ve been pretty clear on our policy that we think that it wouldn’t be right for us to do fact checks for politicians. I think in general, private companies probably shouldn’t be — or especially these platform companies — shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”
However, the comments were met with derision from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who replied to Zuckerberg tweet,
“This does not make us an ‘arbiter of truth. Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves. More transparency from us is critical so folks can clearly see the why behind our actions.”