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Twitter introduces Birdwatch fact check crowdsourcing platform

Twitter comes with Birdwatch, a community platform where users can identify tweets they believe are misleading or false and provide additional information. It is currently a pilot version.

Users who join the Birdwatch pilot can add notes to potentially incorrect or misleading tweets. In it, users can indicate what could be wrong with the tweet and then substantiate this with sources. These Birdwatch annotations can also be reviewed by other users.

The pilot version of Birdwatch is currently only available in the United States. It will be different requirements imposed on potential participants. US users with a verified email address and phone number can sign up for the pilot, provided they have not been previously banned from the platform for violating Twitter’s rules. Users must also have two-factor authentication enabled.

The pilot will initially consist of 1000 participants and fact checks resulting from this will not be visible on Twitter itself in the early stages, according to the New York Times. Instead, the annotations appear on a separate website. If the experiment proves successful, the pilot will expand to more than 100,000 users over the next and the Birdwatch contributions will also become visible to all users. Ultimately, Birdwatch should be made available to the ‘worldwide Twitter audience’. This should be done as soon as there is ‘a consensus of a broad and diverse group of contributors’.

Twitter states that it wants to take several steps to ensure the transparency of Birdwatch. For example, data that is contributed to Birdwatch must be made publicly available. Users can download this data as tsv files. The code of algorithms that Birdwatch will use will also be made open source. For example, a snippet of the code of the assessment system is already online.

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