If you're anything like me, then you're tired of constantly seeing misleading or false information on social media. To combat disinformation, Twitter is considering allowing users to flag tweets containing misleading, false or harmful information.
According to a Washington Post report, the feature is in a prototype phase and "may never be released, but is part of the company’s uphill battle against rampant abuse on its platform."
It's relatively easy for hundreds of fake Twitter accounts to be created with the express goal of trolling or harassment. Many extremist groups utilize Twitter to spread messages of hate and violence. In particular, Islamic extremist group ISIS has been known to utilize Twitter for recruitment and propaganda.
The 2016 presidential election was rife with accusations of fake news with Russia being blamed as one of the biggest contributors. Most notably, then candidate Donald Trump routinely labeled reputable media outlets as fake news. Even as President, Trump continues his war with media outlets that publish unfavorable articles about him
Chris Cuomo, in his interview with Sen. Blumenthal, never asked him about his long-term lie about his brave "service" in Vietnam. FAKE NEWS!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2017
Facebook, the world's largest social media outlet is obviously not immune from fake news. The social media giant has implemented several ways to fight fake news on its platform. Facebook unveiled its own solution for marking news stories as "disputed".
Per Facebook, "news stories that are reported as false by people on Facebook may be reviewed by independent third-party fact-checkers. A story may be marked as disputed if these fact-checkers find the story to be false." Facebook also prevents publishers from changing a headline or picture of an article.
Of course, one of the major drawbacks of Twitter allowing users to flag tweets as fake news is the possibility for abuse. Tweets that are indeed factual could be flagged heavily by people who fundamentally disagree with the tweet. Twitter bots could potentially spam legitimate tweets with fake news flags.
In any case, false and misleading news is an unfortunate consequence of an increasingly connected world. In a place where everyone is allowed to share whatever they want, it's almost inevitable that fake news reverberates off the echo chambers of social media.