Twitter is testing out a new feature on Android that ask users if they want to click and actually read the dang article they’re planning to retweet.
“Sharing an article can spark conversation, so you may want to read it before you Tweet it,” reads a brief update from the company’s Twitter Support account.
The news comes after the social media network flagged tweets penned by president Donald Trump and representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) for glorifying violence during the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests.
Twitter’s battle with misleading content has been going on for years. So far, the company’s approach has been extremely hands-off:
- In 2018, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey dodged responsibility for allowing right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to spread misinformation on its platform.
- In 2019, Dorsey announced that the platform will ban all political ads, across the globe, in light of its involvement in swaying the 2016 presidential election.
- In 2020, Twitter started labeling tweets that contained misleading information about COVID-19.
Arguably, not much has changed on the platform despite those efforts. Misinformation and bot farms still run rampant. Coronavirus-related conspiracy theories aren’t going anywhere.
One of Twitter’s latest attempts to remove false info relates to a conspiracy theory claiming 5G is responsible for spreading the virus — but it failed spectacularly, when factual news headlines, satire, and complaints about fake news started getting taken down as well.
Today, the European Union announced it wants to hold Twitter, alongside Facebook and Google, responsible by demanding monthly reports on how they’re combatting fake news.
At the end of the day, putting up an easily-ignored flag to scold Twitter users is unlikely to impart any meaningful change — especially considering that those who are willing to retweet a link are likely already locked into their convictions.
In fact, it often shifts the burden onto the user. Rather than holding itself responsible for helping spread misinformation on its site, Twitter is trying to offload that responsibility onto their customers.
It’s a move that’s straight out of Facebook and Google’s rulebooks as well — Twitter isn’t alone in this fight.
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