21 votes

Twitter announces Birdwatch, a community-based approach to misinformation

28 comments

  1. [18]
    spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link
    In other words: "We're not going to cut into our profit margins by hiring content moderators and paying them to do this work. Our users are welcome to do the work for free, though. We also reserve...

    community-based approach

    In other words: "We're not going to cut into our profit margins by hiring content moderators and paying them to do this work. Our users are welcome to do the work for free, though. We also reserve the right to blame our users for not doing enough moderation if they complain about misinformation."

    30 votes
    1. [17]
      cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      TBH, given how hired moderators have been treated by other social media companies, and what they have had to endure at their jobs (See: The trauma floor - The secret lives of Facebook moderators...

      TBH, given how hired moderators have been treated by other social media companies, and what they have had to endure at their jobs (See: The trauma floor - The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America)... it's my firm belief that developing systems to incorporate and rely on crowd-sourcing is the only realistic option available for achieving effective moderation at scale.

      So this strikes me as a bit of a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' situation for twitter. But if they do manage to create an effective "reputation and consensus system" (sound familiar?) that could potentially be a huge positive step forward.

      19 votes
      1. [17]
        Comment deleted by author
        Link Parent
        1. [16]
          cfabbro
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          I mean sure... I would love it if the big social media companies actually took content moderation seriously, and were willing to hire enough staff to do it properly, while also ensuring that their...

          I mean sure... I would love it if the big social media companies actually took content moderation seriously, and were willing to hire enough staff to do it properly, while also ensuring that their staff can properly deal with the psychological burdens that being a moderator often brings with it. But that's unfortunately a pretty unrealistic expectation, and I think even an ethical, socially conscious, non-profit social media company would struggle with that sort of expenditure... which is why I specifically mentioned crowd-sourcing being "the only realistic option". Maybe it's myopic and defeatist of me to think this, but I honestly just don't see a way to make salaried employee based moderation work at the scale these companies are operating at.

          5 votes
          1. [16]
            Comment deleted by author
            Link Parent
            1. [15]
              cfabbro
              (edited )
              Link Parent
              And how do you propose that happen? Do you think it should be dissolved by the US government? Or are you merely hoping that Mastadon or another federated system eventually replaces it? In either...

              I have "get rid of Twitter" on the table as one way to solve this problem

              And how do you propose that happen? Do you think it should be dissolved by the US government? Or are you merely hoping that Mastadon or another federated system eventually replaces it? In either case, that's unlikely to happen anytime soon, so until it does, how do you think moderation should be approached by them in the mean time?

              Again, IMO, crowd-sourcing (ideally combined with enough paid moderators to verify decisions and oversee things behind the scenes) seems the best way to prevent perfect from being the enemy of good in this situation.

              4 votes
              1. [15]
                Comment deleted by author
                Link Parent
                1. kfwyre
                  (edited )
                  Link Parent
                  EDIT: @gpl explains it better Total shot in the dark here based on limited linguistic knowledge, but I believe it's because the vowel sound in the middle of that word is unaccented, which in...

                  EDIT: @gpl explains it better


                  Mastadon

                  This is totally off-topic, but I would really like some insight into why so many people make this same typo.

                  Total shot in the dark here based on limited linguistic knowledge, but I believe it's because the vowel sound in the middle of that word is unaccented, which in English makes it a schwa. Any vowel can be a schwa, but its pronunciation as, approximately, "uh" makes it close to the standard 'a' sound, which is doubly reinforced by the fact that we already use the schwa with the article "a" itself (imagine yourself saying "Tell me a story" -- do you say the letter name for the article before "story", or do you say "uh"?). Mentally pronouncing it as "mast-uh-don" can make it feel like it should be spelled "masta-" instead of "masto-".

                  Again, I am NOT an expert on this, so take my words here with uh grain of salt.

                  5 votes
                2. [7]
                  cfabbro
                  Link Parent
                  I get where you're coming from with your complaints and cynicism towards them... I genuinely do. They sat on their laurels letting this shit happen for far too long without taking action. And IMO...

                  I get where you're coming from with your complaints and cynicism towards them... I genuinely do. They sat on their laurels letting this shit happen for far too long without taking action. And IMO they share a large portion of the blame for a lot of the current mess in the US right now regarding the rise of Trump, misinformation and conspiracy theories becoming mainstream, etc. But right now they're between a rock and a hard place, with seemingly no way to win even with good intent, since no matter what they do at this point people will just noisily shit on them (like what is happening in this rather disappointing topic) without offering anything constructive.

                  This Birdwatch system will likely be far from perfect, it has the potential to be abused if poorly implemented, and even if it is well implemented will probably suffer massive growing pains... but if not that, what is the alternative? How do you think moderation should be approached by them in the mean time?

                  3 votes
                  1. [3]
                    kfwyre
                    (edited )
                    Link Parent
                    I agree with you that unbridled cynicism isn't productive and is particularly chafing, but I also think that it's important to note that the type of criticism Twitter is being subjected to (people...
                    • Exemplary

                    But right now they're between a rock and a hard place, with seemingly no way to win even with good intent, since no matter what they do at this point people will just noisily shit on them (like what is happening in this rather disappointing topic) without offering anything constructive.

                    I agree with you that unbridled cynicism isn't productive and is particularly chafing, but I also think that it's important to note that the type of criticism Twitter is being subjected to (people noisily shitting on them) is very much a product of a type of internet discourse that they themselves have helped to create and normalize over years. I see a bit of "turnabout is fair play" in people's responses to Twitter right now, because it simply feels like Twitter is finally under the gun for something they've turned a blind eye to and tacitly encouraged for years. I'm of the mind their current attempts at moderation are long overdue and are, pragmatically, a good thing, but I also don't begrudge people for thumbing their nose at Twitter for their solution. After all, that is exactly what Twitter has trained people to do in the first place. Why should they expect better for themselves when they encourage it in others? (Whether or not Tildes is the place for these kind of pessimistic hot takes is a different conversation though, and I'm probably in agreement with you there.)

                    There's also a secondary (well, actually primary in my mind) aspect here, which I liken to pollution. I see Twitter as a company that has metaphorically been dumping chemicals in the local global river, and it has only decided to take action now that it's clear that sufficient people are actually getting sick from them. As such, their response to gather the community to begin to talk about community-oriented solutions feels like a chemical company gathering the town downstream from their dumping and handing them hazmat suits and shovels and telling them to get to work. Yes, it's a solution, and yes, it's probably the best solution we can generate at this moment given all the compromises that would be involved in implementing an ideal solution, but that's partially because the company was allowed to act with impunity for so long that they created such an insurmountable problem in the first place. It also stings that the company isn't doing everything it can to hire cleanup crews after they themselves have acknowledged the mess. Having the town do it for them feels like one more way they're passing the buck.

                    Many of the big tech companies have long operated well beyond the scope of safety, and they've ignored everyone that has pointed this out to them while profiting mightily from it. Now that they're being called to account for the distance between operating safely and operating feasibly, we excuse their lack of safety through a lack of feasibility. You point out in comments below that the cost to moderate the platform would be prohibitively expensive, and I agree, but I'm also completely unsympathetic to the difficulties that introduces for Twitter, because I feel like it's the bed they've made, and perhaps they should be asked to lie in it for once.

                    6 votes
                    1. [2]
                      cfabbro
                      (edited )
                      Link Parent
                      I totally understand people's frustrations. I despise Twitter and their inaction too, and honestly don't even understand the appeal of the platform at all. However, as you mentioned, I genuinely...

                      I totally understand people's frustrations. I despise Twitter and their inaction too, and honestly don't even understand the appeal of the platform at all. However, as you mentioned, I genuinely don't feel Tildes is the best place to air these sort of grievances, especially when expressed in such an unproductive and vitriolic manner (regardless of how justified/fair that turnabout is)... which is why I was so disappointed with most of the top level responses so far.

                      The conversations that spawned from my reply that ran a bit counter to all the griping have been nice though. And @tindall and I even had a nice convo via PM afterwards too (just mentioning that so everyone realizes there is no hard feelings between us).

                      2 votes
                      1. kfwyre
                        Link Parent
                        Absolutely agreed. Tildes is where I go to get away from the awfulness of the rest of the internet! It's always disheartening to see some of that type of discourse creeping in. On the other hand,...

                        However, as you mentioned, I genuinely don't feel Tildes is the best place to air these sort of grievances, especially when expressed in such an unproductive and vitriolic manner (regardless of how justified/fair that turnabout is)... which is why I was so disappointed with most of the top level responses so far.

                        Absolutely agreed. Tildes is where I go to get away from the awfulness of the rest of the internet! It's always disheartening to see some of that type of discourse creeping in.

                        On the other hand, it's absolutely heartening to see that Tildes also is kind of place where people pull each other aside in PMs to positively and privately process things. That is wonderful and special. :)

                        3 votes
                  2. [4]
                    Comment deleted by author
                    Link Parent
                    1. [2]
                      cfabbro
                      Link Parent
                      So you would rather nothing happen than them at least trying something they actually can accomplish (and sell to their shareholders and VC overlords) that might do some good? I too wish they would...

                      So you would rather nothing happen than them at least trying something they actually can accomplish (and sell to their shareholders and VC overlords) that might do some good? I too wish they would just hire an army of moderators and support them properly, but it's unlikely that is going to happen, and at least community moderation is a step in the right direction, IMO.

                      2 votes
                      1. [2]
                        Comment deleted by author
                        Link Parent
                        1. cfabbro
                          Link Parent
                          Fair enough, agree to disagree, I guess.

                          Fair enough, agree to disagree, I guess.

                          2 votes
                    2. mundane_and_naive
                      Link Parent
                      Leaving the scalability issue aside, people might criticize a central moderation team appointed by Twitter of being biased and unfair censorships (you know who these people are). This is something...

                      I think they should take their obscene amounts of money and pay people to do it.

                      Leaving the scalability issue aside, people might criticize a central moderation team appointed by Twitter of being biased and unfair censorships (you know who these people are). This is something no amount of money or professionalism is going to resolve.

                      2 votes
                3. [6]
                  gpl
                  Link Parent
                  In American English, mastodon is pronounced /mæstədɑn/, where the 'ə' sound is a mid central unrounded vowel. Other words with this sound are the first "a" in away, /əˈweɪ/, or the final "a" in...

                  This is totally off-topic, but I would really like some insight into why so many people make this same typo.

                  In American English, mastodon is pronounced /mæstədɑn/, where the 'ə' sound is a mid central unrounded vowel. Other words with this sound are the first "a" in away, /əˈweɪ/, or the final "a" in cinema, /ˈsɪn.ə.mə/, among others. So a lot of words that are pronounced with this same sound in American English are spelled with an "a", so it's a somewhat reasonable typo.

                  7 votes
                  1. [5]
                    Cycloneblaze
                    Link Parent
                    I always find it fascinating, the class of common misspellings that don't have any apparent relation to how the word is written, but match exactly to how the words sound when spoken. Like 'could...

                    I always find it fascinating, the class of common misspellings that don't have any apparent relation to how the word is written, but match exactly to how the words sound when spoken. Like 'could of' instead of 'could have'. You'd think writing and speaking would be quite distinct processes in the brain, but they aren't!

                    4 votes
                    1. [4]
                      Comment deleted by author
                      Link Parent
                      1. [3]
                        Cycloneblaze
                        Link Parent
                        I was kind of thinking the same thing... when I write a comment like I am right now, I'm thinking of the words in my head as I type them - because I'm deciding what word I want to type next. This...

                        I was kind of thinking the same thing... when I write a comment like I am right now, I'm thinking of the words in my head as I type them - because I'm deciding what word I want to type next. This definitely causes me to make errors where I skip ahead a word or even just a letter and type it too soon. I bet other people who think in different ways make entirely different categories of typos.

                        Although, I don't have an internal narrative - my thoughts are not vocalised at all. That was a weird thing to realise other people do.

                        4 votes
                        1. cfabbro
                          (edited )
                          Link Parent
                          Vice versa. It was weird to me learning that some people don't have internal narratives, since even as I type this out I can't help but hear my internal narrator speaking the words as I write...

                          I don't have an internal narrative - my thoughts are not vocalised at all. That was a weird thing to realise other people do.

                          Vice versa. It was weird to me learning that some people don't have internal narratives, since even as I type this out I can't help but hear my internal narrator speaking the words as I write them... :P And given that, I suspect you're all probably right about that being the root cause of me misspelling Mast a o don too. ;)

                          p.s. As an aside, in order to stop misspelling a lot of words I even had to train myself to mispronounce them in my head. E.g. "Wed Nes Day", "Be A Utiful", etc. Even though I still say them correctly out loud, when I am in "spelling mode" when typing, that's what I hear in my head as I type them out.

                          2 votes
                        2. gpl
                          (edited )
                          Link Parent
                          I hear this sentiment a ton online that I'm beginning to think it's a myth that people have internal narratives! I jest, of course, but I do have a suspicion that there's a disconnect here and...

                          Although, I don't have an internal narrative - my thoughts are not vocalised at all. That was a weird thing to realise other people do.

                          I hear this sentiment a ton online that I'm beginning to think it's a myth that people have internal narratives! I jest, of course, but I do have a suspicion that there's a disconnect here and what some people describe as an "internal narrative" others do not. For example, I certainly do not vocalize all of my thoughts and it seems like my speed of thought goes much faster than the amount of time it would take to vocalize every single thing going through my head. That being said, once I concentrate on what I am thinking about, there is definitely a vocal component. If I think about going downstairs to get a snack, my thoughts are non-vocal, but once I think about the fact I am thinking about going to get a snack, I impose a narrative that has some type of vocal quality to it - I will think, I believe in words, that my thought was "I am going to go get a snack". I suspect in discussions like this a lot of people perhaps conflate the thought with the thought about the thought, since the latter is necessary to convey what one is thinking about and (at least in my case) has some type of narrative element.

                          What a mess to type out, but I hope that makes sense. This is such an interesting conversation that I might make a whole thread about it.

                          EDIT: I made a post about this to get more input!

                          2 votes
                    2. [2]
                      Comment deleted by author
                      Link Parent
                      1. Cycloneblaze
                        Link Parent
                        That is exactly what I was referring to, I just forgot to contract 'could have' lol

                        That is exactly what I was referring to, I just forgot to contract 'could have' lol

                        1 vote
  2. [2]
    moocow1452
    Link
    This is sure to end well.

    Birdwatch allows people to identify information in Tweets they believe is misleading and write notes that provide informative context. We believe this approach has the potential to respond quickly when misleading information spreads, adding context that people trust and find valuable. Eventually we aim to make notes visible directly on Tweets for the global Twitter audience, when there is consensus from a broad and diverse set of contributors.

    This is sure to end well.

    14 votes
    1. suspended
      Link Parent
      I'm not a Twitter user. However, I'm not sure that this is going to lead into any meaningful moderation. My first thought was that this could easily be abused.

      I'm not a Twitter user. However, I'm not sure that this is going to lead into any meaningful moderation. My first thought was that this could easily be abused.

      11 votes
  3. NaraVara
    Link
    Great! Another avenue for nitpicky reply-guys to flood your comments with bad faith garbage. I look forward to Jewish users mentioning their family histories getting "fact checks" like 'Well...

    Great! Another avenue for nitpicky reply-guys to flood your comments with bad faith garbage. I look forward to Jewish users mentioning their family histories getting "fact checks" like 'Well ackshually there was no holocaust' or tankies showing up in discussions of monetary policy to 'Well ackshually' economists about the labor theory of value.

    7 votes
  4. [4]
    petrichor
    Link
    This might compete with Reddit's "Predictions" as the worst idea recent idea a social media site's had. Seems akin to be a repeat of what happened with Gab's Dissenter addon.

    This might compete with Reddit's "Predictions" as the worst idea recent idea a social media site's had.

    Seems akin to be a repeat of what happened with Gab's Dissenter addon.

    3 votes
    1. [3]
      daturkel
      Link Parent
      What is Reddit "Predictions"? Couldn't find it googline.

      What is Reddit "Predictions"? Couldn't find it googline.

      1 vote
      1. Diff
        Link Parent
        Discussed previously here. They're polls where you bet on some outcome with reddit's virtual currency.

        Discussed previously here.

        They're polls where you bet on some outcome with reddit's virtual currency.

        6 votes
  5. [3]
    gpl
    Link
    I'm not overly optimistic this will work, but community based moderation approaches have worked in the past. Notable successes include Wikipedia, and also Stack Exchange. It's not perfect, but...

    I'm not overly optimistic this will work, but community based moderation approaches have worked in the past. Notable successes include Wikipedia, and also Stack Exchange. It's not perfect, but moderating content at Twitter scale is inherently difficult if you don't automate it, which leads to a whole host of problems as well (see, automatic DMCA takedowns on Youtube). I don't think this inherently a bad idea, and with proper adoption maybe it could do some good.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      soks_n_sandals
      Link Parent
      Do you consider the culture of those sites to contribute to their self-moderated success? My impression is that mechanism was baked-in from the outset, whereas here with Twitter, it's more like an...

      Do you consider the culture of those sites to contribute to their self-moderated success? My impression is that mechanism was baked-in from the outset, whereas here with Twitter, it's more like an afterthought.

      1 vote
      1. gpl
        Link Parent
        I definitely think there's feedback between site design and site culture, and that feedback usually goes both ways. So I do think that the fact those moderation systems were baked in from the...

        I definitely think there's feedback between site design and site culture, and that feedback usually goes both ways. So I do think that the fact those moderation systems were baked in from the start probably contributes to how successful they've been - if Wikipedia started out with an "anything goes" approach and only later tried to become a serious reference, it would have surely failed. That being said, I don't think it is impossible to nudge site culture in a new direction with new site design, and it in general will depend on implementation of said design. Which is why I don't think this choice by Twitter is inherently bad, and its success or failure will largely depend on how Twitter chooses to tweak and incorporate feedback into how this system will work. This could work is what I am saying.

        4 votes