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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Elon Musk says Twitter's Birdwatch feature will be renamed 'Community Notes' and is aimed at 'improving information accuracy' amid growing content-moderation concerns

Elon Musk says Twitter's Birdwatch feature will be renamed 'Community Notes' and is aimed at 'improving information accuracy' amid growing content-moderation concerns

The tool, which allows users to add context notes to potentially misleading posts, went public last month after a pilot program in the US.

Elon Musk tweeted Saturday about an expansion of Twitter's Birdwatch feature that he said has "incredible potential for improving information accuracy" as the new CEO faces ongoing concerns over content inaccuracies and moderation on the social media platform.

Birdwatch will allow users to add context to notes on potentially misleading posts. It also will be renamed "Community Notes," and Musk tweeted that the tool has "incredible potential for improving information accuracy" on the platform.

The billionaire made the remarks in response to a tweet from Twitter Vice President of Product Keith Coleman who commented on Birdwatch's "usage spike over the past week."

Coleman's tweet included a thread written by Alex Mahadevan, director of Mediawise, that cited publicly available data showing that the number of Birdwatch notes had increased to 131 a day, up from 45 per day prior, during the five days since Musk's purchase of Twitter.

Birdwatch notes first became public to users in early October, after the feature was launched in a pilot program in the US in January 2021. According to a blog post written by Coleman on the Twitter website, the feature "allows people to identify information in Tweets they believe is misleading and write notes that provide informative context."

"We believe this approach has the potential to respond quickly when misleading information spreads, adding context that people trust and find valuable," Coleman wrote.

Among tweets where Birdwatch notes have appeared in the past week is a post from Musk himself. He claimed "Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue, due to activist groups pressuring advertisers, even though nothing has changed with content moderation."

He continued: "Extremely messed up! They're trying to destroy free speech in America."

A Birdwatch note currently affixed to that tweet states: "Multiple advertisers have confirmed they are pausing spending while they see what direction Elon Musk takes with the platform," and links to a Guardian article about General Mills temporarily pulling advertising.

The uptick comes as hundreds of employees reportedly were cut off from operating Twitter's content-moderation system earlier week, leaving just 15 staffers with access to the program, Bloomberg reported.

Musk later promised civil rights leaders he would restore access to the content-moderation system, and told advertisers he is considering creating tiers of content moderation similar to movie ratings, according to The Financial Times.

Initially, posts were only visible on a separate Birdwatch site, before they were integrated into the platform. According to the company, "Birdwatch is made up of independent contributors, and individual notes are never written by Twitter."

"This is intentional, as it helps ensure our efforts to address potentially misleading information are informed by a diverse group of people who use our service," the company wrote in its October 2022 blog post.

Users can rate notes as "Helpful" or "Not Helpful," and notes are surfaced publicly based on an algorithm that Twitter shared openly on GitHub.

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