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(Pocket-lint) - Twitter has launched a community fact-checking program, called Birdwatch, in the US. Here's everything you need to know.

What is Twitter Birdwatch?

Twitter has launched a pilot program, called Birdwatch, that is designed to help prevent the spread of misinformation on the platform. It allows users to fact-check tweets by submitting valuable, contextual notes, but it's currently only available to a select number of US participants.

Twitter has struggled to prevent users from posting misinformation and propaganda. It recently started to label some tweets with wrong or misleading information about the US Presidential election, but many have argued that work is not enough. Perhaps Birdwatch is the answer.

“We believe this approach has the potential to respond quickly when misleading information spreads, adding context that people trust and find valuable," Twitter explained in a blog post published on 25 January 2021. "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.

The company said it interviewed more than 100 people who told the company that Birdwatch notes helped them to better understand tweets.

How does Twitter Birdwatch work?

To start, Birdwatch allows about 1,000 users participating in the pilot to add context. They can post notes on tweets and rate notes submitted by other participants. But the notes aren't yet publicly visible on Twitter. They're only on the Birdwatch website.  To promote transparency, all contributions to Birdwatch are visible on the Birdwatch site, even if an account’s tweets are protected. 

Examples of Birdwatch notes

Here is an example of a tweet with Birdwatch notes:

How to sign up to participate in Birdwatch

Go here to apply and learn the eligibility requirements.

During the first phase, Birdwatch is limited to a small test group. To participate, your account must have a verified phone and email, two-factor authentication enabled, and no recent notice of violations. Twitter said it will randomly admit accounts, and it's prioritising accounts that have been recently active on Twitter and tend to engage with different tweets than existing participants do.

Writing by Maggie Tillman. Originally published on 25 January 2021.