Twitter’s Community Notes, formerly Birdwatch, seek to dispel misinformation driven by falsehoods and inaccuracies through community moderation.
Twitter has been a mess ever since Elon took over, with advertisers like Apple, General Motors, and Pfizer halting their ad spending and legions of Twitter users scrutinizing and then criticizing the billionaire’s every tweet and move. Amidst the chaos of changing fundamental Twitter rules, mass layoffs, and declining ad revenue, the Twitter team announced algorithm change for Twitter’s Community Notes, promising much-needed moderation.
The concept of Community Notes
Twitter’s Community Notes allow contributors to add context to misleading or false viral tweets. Here’s an example of how Community Notes work:
Elon posted a Tweet with inaccurate information, which was immediately corrected by the Community Notes.
In simple words, Twitter’s Community Notes will help create a crowdsource community moderation system where credible contributors can add notes to Tweets they think are inaccurate or lack key information.
Community Notes is inspired by a Taiwan-based platform, Polis, that allows citizens to add their opinion regarding specific laws. On Polis, people add their own and agree or disagree with other people’s notes, elevating suggestions that hold the most merit.
The idea behind Polis was to create a social platform that fosters consensus rather than carving divisions among groups. Twitter’s Community Notes seek to do the same, but on a larger scale.
Instead of choosing the most popular opinion, the Community Notes will utilize a bridging algorithm to find consensus between different groups with varying views.
How do the Community Notes work?
Here are the key attributes of Twitter’s community Notes:
- Being a contributor to Twitter’s Community Notes is a privilege reserved for a few. To earn that privilege, you must prove your ability to assess useful tweets or content by contributing your voice via rating others’ notes as helpful or not helpful. This would earn you a score starting from zero. If your score reaches 5, you will be invited to participate as a contributor. But that does not mean you’ll enjoy that status forever; if you disregard the Twitter rules or contribute low-quality content, Twitter can strip your contributor title, and you’ll have to earn it back.
- Community Notes contributors are protected via aliases that hide their actual Twitter names. You can easily cross partisan lines without worrying about the repercussions.
- The responsibility of content moderation now falls upon the community rather than Twitter.
- So far, Community Notes are only accessible to a handful of people within the US.
- The US contributors must have a verified phone number, no recent notice of Twitter violations, and a six-month-old account.
- As a Twitter user, you can report a note by clicking the three-dot menu on the Note and then by clicking Report.
- Tweet authors can seek additional review if they disagree with the Community Notes added to their tweets. The new Community Notes algorithm will identify low-quality notes and their contributors who will be subjected to Twitter restrictions.
- Community Notes operate through a transparent process. Anyone can access the open-source code on Github.
Twitters Community Notes and the new era of content moderation
While it sounds great to have community moderation on a social media platform, it also raises a few concerns.
In the future, Twitter’s audience may become one-sided (either liberal or conservative), driving a consensus that may not encompass diverse viewpoints.
And most importantly, are we ready to leave moderation into the hands of a community that may not fully understand the intricate matters related to science, politics, education, and justice? The public can lean towards a viewpoint that could harm society simply because they don’t fully comprehend the ramifications. For example, what if the majority disagrees with vaccination?
Community Notes could prove valuable as long as we dont rely on public opinion entirely. For example, it’s okay to reinstate Twitter accounts based on the public vote, but we cannot leave gun laws in the hands of the public. Some decisions require experienced and knowledgeable input.
If Elon sticks with the idea of Community Notes long enough, it could become a transformative tool that may render conventional media useless. Additionally, it may usher us into an era of distilled information, free of inaccuracies that drive misinformation and conspiracy theories.