Twitter has rolled out another update for Community Notes, with community-contributed contextual pointers now also being shown on quote tweets in the app.
Community Notes are now also shown on Quote Tweets ???? This change boosts the impact of contributors’ efforts, and helps ensure context is shown everywhere it can be helpful. Live now in the web app, and coming soon to iOS and Android. pic.twitter.com/HEUe73m9PU
— Community Notes (@CommunityNotes) January 19, 2023
As you can see in this example, now, even if a post has been re-shared via the ‘Quote tweet’ option, any Community Note will still be displayed, ensuring more users get the additional context added by users.
And that’s not all – according to Twitter chief Elon Musk, users will soon also be notified whenever anything that they’ve replied to, liked, or retweeted gets a Community Note added. That’ll help to expand awareness, and keep people more informed in the app, which could go some way towards reducing the spread of misinformation in tweets.
While it’s been in development for two years, Community Notes (formerly ‘Birdwatch’) has emerged as a key element in Elon Musk’s push to make Twitter a more trustworthy source of information, with the tool, in Musk’s view at least, enabling a form of crowd-sourced fact-checking that will then reduce Twitter’s own obligations in regards to moderation and, in some views, censorship.
Musk firmly believes that the users themselves should be the arbiters of truth, not platform management, and Community Notes provides a means for Twitter users to add their say, as well as additional reference notes, in order to fact-check any claims that may be untrue or unclear in tweets.
Which has some merit – and definitely, any level of friction in the sharing process, particularly when it comes to retweets, can help to reduce the spread of untrue information in the app.
Retweeting has been identified as a key amplifier of misinformation, because the process makes it incredibly easy to re-distribute content quickly, which many users then do without any level of fact-checking or consideration on their own part.
This is particularly true when matched with confirmation bias, which makes people far more likely to re-share information that supports their established views, even if it seems questionable or potentially incorrect. The presence of Community Notes slows this, with even the on-screen display of the note likely causing users to re-think their sharing behavior, and stunting rapid re-distribution of claims across the app.
The new notifiers on tweets you’ve previously engaged with will have even more impact in this respect, and it could be that Community Notes does become a big factor, especially on more divisive topics and debates.
But then again, putting moderation in the hands of users does come with a level of risk. The Community Notes system is improving, and new checking and qualification processes do lessen the chances of it being misused. But it could still spark debate and dissent, depending on what constitutes accepted evidence to support claims.
But it’s a worthy experiment either way, which as noted, also aligns with Elon’s ‘power to the people’ approach to moderation at the app.