Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
24 February 2020
Who decides what is Twitter misinformation and what is not?
The 2016 Presidential election was full of Twitter misinformation, as well as on Facebook and other social media platforms. It was the main way Russia interfered in our election.
With another Presidential election looming, Twitter misinformation faces a roadblock. The social media outlet is testing a new feature in which some questionable retweets are given red and orange badges with the line: “Harmfully Misleading.”
This feature is desperately needed as social media figures out how to combat bad information. Twitter no longer allows political ads, and Facebook and Pinterest are also employing ways to stop the spread of misinformation.
They must. Congress is flirting with the idea of adding regulation and federal oversight to the operations of such outlets. So ways to limit the kind of rancor that often dominates social media to a minimum is coming.
So, yes, I’m all for as little Twitter misinformation as possible, even though the idea makes me a little uncomfortable. Who decides what’s harmfully misleading and what isn’t?
Twitter will use fact-checkers and verified journalists to participate in a community reports feature that governs the practice, something like Wikipedia. It won’t be perfect but the attempt goes in the right direction.
“The problem was that social media became the Wild West, where any outrageous lie could be believed and used as supporting points for ridiculous and potentially harmless stances. Twitter misinformation was just a fact of life, and Russia took advantage.”
Limiting Twitter misinformation a needed initiative in today’s social media climate
For example, Twitter misinformation will also be limited with an anti-deepfake policy in which synthetic or manipulated media will have a warning next to them. (Think putting a person’s face on someone else through Photoshop to ruin a reputation.)
In some ways, social media has been the victim of its own success. Its promise was a free and open discussion, content driven by the users themselves.
The problem was that social media became the Wild West, where any outrageous lie could be believed and used as supporting points for ridiculous and potentially harmless stances. Twitter misinformation was just a fact of life, and Russia took advantage.
That’s one of the reasons why I’m not as active on social media as I once was. The Facebook scandal (selling our private information) killed my trust in it. And Twitter seems, at times, to be just a shouting match among lunatics.
Limiting Twitter misinformation means more than just rooting out political misinformation. Twitter plans discourage misinformation on any topic, such as information about the coronavirus.
The idea of policing thought gives me great pause. But we’ve entered an era where it’s just too easy for misinformation to be accepted as gospel. And that can be more damaging than anything. And, frankly, I’m sick of it.
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