Twitter Makes ‘Community Notes’ Visible to All Users Globally
Another key element of Elon Musk’s ‘Twitter 2.0’ reform plan is now in place, with Twitter opening up its Community Notes tweet context indicators to all users worldwide.
Well, sort of — starting today, all Twitter users can see community notes attached to tweets, but only US-based users can create them, though Twitter says more contributors from other regions will soon be able to add notes to tweets add.
As per Twitter:
“People everywhere can now see and rate notes, helping to ensure that notes are useful to those from a wide range of views. You can see notes that are currently considered useful and are shown on Twitter here. If you don’t see them yet, don’t worry, they’re in the process of rolling out.”
Twitter originally launched Community Notes – then called ‘Birdwatch’ – in January last year as a way to expand its efforts to combat misinformation in tweets.
As you can see in this example, contributors who are approved users within the Twitter community can add contextual notes to tweets that may contain misleading information through Community Notes.
Tweets with these notes then appear with an indicator in-stream, alerting users to the additional information.
The idea is that by leaving it up to the Twitter community to provide notes on tweets, it would allow Twitter to take a more hands-off approach to moderation, because it wouldn’t be Twitter’s own team should not dictate the rules as such. , but ‘the people’ will be able to decide what is and is not acceptable, through crowd-sourced applications.
What new Twitter chief Elon Musk, for example, thinks is the best way forward for the app.
Community Notes is a game changer for improving accuracy on Twitter!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 10, 2022
Musk says that Community Notes ‘will have a powerful impact on fakes‘ in the app, as it will allow a wide range of inputs to assess the accuracy and veracity of statements made within tweets, which will also, at least theoretically, remove political bias, which Musk believes has corrupted Twitter’s moderation efforts in the past.
But now, with more contributors, and more notes pouring in, Twitter’s users will have their say, arbitrating those who are participants in the same discussions, making it a better representation of community sentiment and acceptance, rather than a ruling by Twitter’s internal management.
In many ways, this is similar to Reddit’s upvotes, with the community able to dictate how posts are displayed in the app by voting on each one. Community notes are different in that they also include contextual notes, and they won’t affect the display of tweets in the same way. But allowing users to add notes and vote on the accuracy of those edits should help provide valuable hints about divisive comments, which can help facilitate more understanding and context.
If it works as intended. There is some risk that the tool will be used to highlight partisan views, and bury opposing perspectives, with armies of activists potentially disavowing opposing views to reduce their impact.
For example, if a tweet were to say that ‘the COVID vaccine is unsafe’, groups dedicated to boosting this message could all coordinate to vote that the note is ‘helpful’, which could then see it as ‘ a source of truth, whether that statement is actually true or not.
The risk of crowdsourcing truth in this way is that you run the risk of reinforcing, or validating, what people believe, or want, to be true, which is not always the same as the truth itself. Perhaps, if enough people contribute, it will play out as hoped, but there is a level of risk in this approach, while it also won’t solve all of the app’s problems with misinformation and harmful messaging, as Musk seemed to imply.
But it might be worth a try — and if it works as intended, Twitter may eventually put more emphasis on tweet ranking on these notes, ensuring the best information gets more amplification in the app.
We’ll find out, with all users now able to see and vote on the value of Community Notes in the app, and more note contributors signed up soon.