In the world of social media, it’s easy to see why people fall victim to fake news posts and misinformation. Up until this year, very little was being done to protect susceptible web surfers from misleading information until the onslaught of Covid-19 conspiracy theories and baseless claims of voter fraud in the US election forced the hands of Facebook and Twitter to put measures in place to prevent further spread.
Twitter has now opted to go a step further: if you try and like a tweet that is already flagged for containing false or disputed content, a warning will appear urging the user to check official news sources.
This additional step to prevent the fake news blight from current affairs is, frankly, a welcome sight. We’re sure we all have family members or friends that have sadly become part of the spread of conspiracy theories and baseless, problematic claims, and with any luck, Twitter implementing this style of warning system will make users think twice about their sources.
It does appear that the pop-up is not currently a consistent feature, as it mostly seems to apply to the source tweet, and not re-tweets. It should also be noted that this was tested on the Twitter website and that this update has not yet been rolled out to mobile apps.
Giving context on why a labeled Tweet is misleading under our election, COVID-19, and synthetic and manipulated media rules is vital.These prompts helped decrease Quote Tweets of misleading information by 29% so we’re expanding them to show when you tap to like a labeled Tweet. pic.twitter.com/WTK164nMfZNovember 23, 2020
We did notice that it appears the feature is still being developed and tweaked as widely-known sources for misinformation (such as a certain US President) have more consistency applied to the warning messages, whilst other fake news spotted on the site does not yet flag a prompt to check sources, despite being marked for disputed information.
We look forward to seeing how this develops and hope that anyone looking at our Twitter feeds during our investigation doesn’t judge too harshly: it’s all in the name of news, we swear.