Last week, Twitter released a preliminary look at how their election-year anti-misinformation measures had worked. The verdict? Well enough that they’re keeping some, ditching others — and expanding at least one.
Twitter applied labels to, and in a few cases even masked, tweets containing disputed info about the election or voting — including Donald Trump’s repeated attacks on mail-in ballots and the count that eventually saw him declared the loser. If a user went to retweet a labeled tweet, a prompt would pop up with a link to more information, and an additional warning that the info in the tweet is disputed.
You can still RT labeled posts, to be clear; it’s just an extra step. And according to Twitter, that little bit of friction helped decrease the circulation of misleading info. So now they’re expanding it to liking labeled tweets, too.
“Giving context on why a labeled Tweet is misleading under our election, COVID-19, and synthetic and manipulated media rules is vital,” read a tweet from the platform’s Support account on Monday. “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.”
Meanwhile, Facebook’s own labeling of misinformation hasn’t seemed to have done much, with Buzzfeed reporting it only reduced sharing by about 8 percent.
Adding the disputed warning as you smash that heart might be an extra precautionary measure as Twitter reintroduces a function it paused during the last few weeks of the presidential campaign: those sneaky tweets that would drop into your timeline because someone you follow liked them. Pausing it, last week’s blog post explained, didn’t seem to have a significant effect on the spread of misleading tweets.
When Twitter announced these extra bits of friction in the retweet function, the timeline for keeping them in place was vague, given only as “through at least the end of Election week.”
With Election Week still dragging on into Election Month, the company expanding this feature suggests they’re fully expecting the misinformation firehose to be a problem for the remaining weeks of Election Year.