In context: With the U.S. presidential election less than a month away, Twitter is making fundamental changes to its platform in a further attempt to combat the spread of misinformation. The changes include limiting retweets and adding further labels and warnings for misinformation, due to come into effect next week, these will remain active throughout the election period.
Twitter explained that the changes are three-fold. First, when users go to retweet, they’ll instead be prompted to use a “quote tweet” composer where additional commentary can be added. Twitter hopes that this will encourage users to think more about the tweet they’re sharing while adding their own thoughts, reactions, and perspectives. If users don’t add their own commentary, the tweet will appear as a retweet.
Second, Twitter is clamping down on tweets with a misleading information label from leading U.S. political figures (including candidates and campaign accounts), U.S.-based accounts with more than 100,000 followers, and individual tweets which obtain significant engagement. Users will need to tap through a warning label to see these tweets, retweets will be turned off, and these messages won’t be algorithmically recommended by Twitter. This is expected to significantly reduce the spread of misinformation on the platform.
Finally, Twitter will no longer share “liked by” and “followed by” recommendations from people you don’t follow, and Trends in the “For You” tab will only be included if they have additional context.
“This will help people more quickly gain an informed understanding of the high volume public conversation in the U.S. and also help reduce the potential for misleading information to spread,” the company said.
Before this, Twitter had been labelling misinformation on its platform while quietly developing a secret feature that should help further combat the spread. Until that’s ready, it seems the platform is doing all it can to make the U.S. presidential election as democratic, valid, and fair as possible.
Twitter’s latest changes are launching globally on October 20 and will remain active through the end of election week, though the company hinted that they could become a permanent fixture.