- 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.
- After its first launch in Brazil in March, followed by Italy in April, Twitter has rolled out its version of Stories’Fleets’ for users to post ephemeral content in India.
- Fleets are self-deleting tweets which will disappear after 24 hours without likes, retweets or replies. People can only react with DMs to the Fleets.
Nearly, 7 years ago Snapchat introduced a feature ‘Stories’ to their platform that enabled users to share content with friends and followers that would disappear after 24 hours. Soon, a similar feature was added to Instagram and WhatsApp as Stories and Status respectively by Facebook.
Now, its Twitter’s turn.
How does it matter
India is the 8th largest market for Twitter based on usage and has around 13 million users. Twitter users in India can now have access to the feature ‘Fleets’ and in the coming days, it will be available on iOS and Apple.
— Kayvon Beykpour (@kayvz) June 9, 2020
We’re testing a way for you to think out loud without the Likes, Retweets, or replies, called Fleets! Best part? They disappear after 24 hours. pic.twitter.com/r14VWUoF6p
— Twitter India (@TwitterIndia) June 9, 2020
Twitter is taking a staged approach similar to LinkedIn who rolled out its Stories feature in the UAE market, after the launch in Brazil and Netherlands.
Why, so important
The company said in a statement,
“We learned from research that people don’t Tweet because Tweets are public, feel permanent, and display the number of Retweets and Likes. We hope Fleets will empower many more people to express themselves more freely.”
By far the feedback received is optimistic and following are Twitter findings from the launch of Fleets in the two markets:
- Fleets make it easier for people to share thoughts.
- People are finding Twitter Fleets simpler to start convos and the number of tweets/DM is also increasing.
- People are expressing their thoughts freely after using Twitter Fleet.
- Though it is early to say, only a small percentage of abuse is reported each day after using Twitter Fleets. This was a key point that Twitter was looking to focus to make the platform toxic-free that had become a part and parcel over time.
How does it work:
“Fleets are fast and familiar. People can tap on their own avatar to start, add text or media, and hit send. That’s it, that’s how one Fleets.”
Fleets, as seen in the images are similar to Stories that appear at the top of users’ Twitter home feed. Users can choose to make a post in a text (still 280 characters) or photos, GIF’s or videos. Users can tap on someone’s avatar to see what the person has posted which will eventually disappear after 24 hours.
Although Fleets doesn’t have additional visual presentation tools and AR functionality at this stage like most other Stories options but Twitter will gradually develop on this front as it had acquired Chrome Labs, a company focused on Advanced Stories presentation.
Lastly, Twitter Fleets is still in experiment mode and with access to more than 30 million users for a test pool, it could be the starting point for the global rollout.
So be ready with your Twitter Fleets strategy!