Twitter tests 'Birdwatch' misinformation reporting tool

The social media service is developing a feature that will crowdsource views on whether Tweets are misleading.

Twitter's San Francisco headquarters. (Photo credit: Getty Images).
Twitter's San Francisco headquarters. (Photo credit: Getty Images).

Twitter is experimenting with a new feature that will allow users to make public annotations to Tweets they have flagged as misinformation or argue for the authenticity of Tweets.

Called Birdwatch, the tool appears to have two primary functions: allowing users to report misleading Tweets to Twitter's content moderators and allowing users to provide public notes on why they believe a tweet is or is not misleading.

App researcher Jane Manchun Wong uncovered the feature in August. At the time, she Tweeted that moderators could flag tweets, vote on whether it was misleading and add notes.

Over the weekend, Wong and social media consultant Matt Navarra uncovered more details about the feature. 

According to their screenshots, Birdwatch appears as a binoculars icon on all Tweets. Once clicked, users can Add to Birdwatch' which will flag a Tweet for moderation. Once they do so, a form will be pulled up that asks the user to give evidence on whether they believe a Tweet is "misinformed, or potentially misleading" or "not misleading." A questionnaire will ask several questions as to why they believe the Tweet to be misleading or not, and then a box will ask for evidence in 580 characters.

Users can click into a Tweet to see if any notes have been made. The notes act as a sort of public ledger of a Tweet's authenticity. Although it is unclear if all users will be able to provide notes on a Tweet or only a select cohort—if the former it could quickly turn from a place of informed debate into a target for trolls.

Furthermore, a new tab called Birdwatch Notes will be added to Twitter’s sidebar navigation, which will consolidate a user's contributions.

These features may change when the product is rolled out. Twitter confirmed to Campaign that Birdwatch is "very much in development stage." It will not be launched in time for the November 3 presidential election, Twiter added.

But a Twitter spokesperson confirmed the tool forms part of the platform's effort to tackle misinformation.

"We're exploring a number of ways to address misinformation and provide more context for Tweets on Twitter," the spokesperson said. "Misinformation is a critical issue and we will be testing many different ways to address it."

Twitter users cannot currently report a Tweet as false news. In the dropdown menu, users can report a Tweet as "suspicious or spam," displaying a sensitive photo or video, "abusive or harmful" or for "expressing intentions of self-harm or suicide."

This article first appeared on

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in