In an effort to halt the spread of misinformation (and perhaps hate-sharing), Twitter will ask you politely to read an article before you decide to share it.
To tackle the spread of misinformation on their social network, Twitter is testing a new feature on Android devices that will call out users who haven’t read the article they’re about to share.
The move comes after the social media network flagged tweets by U.S. President Donald Trump for supposedly glorifying violence during the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests.
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.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) June 10, 2020
“In an effort to help start healthier conversations, we want to help people know what they are sharing. So, when someone is about to Retweet an article but they haven’t clicked into the linked article, they’ll see a prompt asking if they’d like to open the article before sharing,” a Twitter spokesperson told Gizmodo.
Twitter has had to grapple with misleading content for years now. Their solutions have proven ineffective thus far, with the social media giant opting for more hands-off approaches. One can argue that not much has changed; misinformation and bot farms are prevalent and coronavirus-related conspiracy theories consistently do the rounds.
A recent “attempt” by Twitter in the war on misinformation involved removing false info relating to a conspiracy theory that claims the advent of the introduction of the 5G telecommunications network is responsible for spreading the virus. It failed to do the trick, bringing down factual news headlines, satire, and complaints regarding the very thing they were trying to stop.
The reality is that the new function being rolled out is nothing more than an easy-to-ignore, powerless prompt that is unlikely to spark any significant change—especially since those inclined to share articles before they read them are more than likely already locked into their convictions. In theory, it is an interesting approach, though it can be construed that Twitter is shifting the burden onto the user, rather than holding itself responsible for the spread of misinformation. After all, it wouldn’t be in Twitter’s best interest to totally prevent its users from retweeting things they haven’t read.
Last week, the European Union announced it wants to keep Twitter, Facebook, and Google accountable by demanding monthly reports on how each company is combating fake news.