Have you heard about the latest developments in policy change of Twitter on the eve of US elections and the second peak of the COVID-19 pandemic?
With the incoming November Presidential Elections and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Twitter announced a new retweet policy to deter bullying and disinformation. The company explains the new election policy on its official blog:
We do not allow anyone to use Twitter to manipulate or interfere in elections or other civic processes, and recently expanded our civil integrity policy to address how we’ll handle misleading information surrounding these events.
With the global update on October 20, Twitter suggests anyone who retweets something to post a quoted retweet instead. The update will be in effect until the end of the election week. Then, Twitter will decide whether the change would remain as a long-term or it would be a temporary configuration.
The intention is not to retweet users at will but instead to urge them to submit their written thoughts before posting messages and posts back to the social atmosphere. However, it does not mean that users cannot leave the composer blank, they will be able to follow classical retweet way without a mention, and the retweet message would continue as usual.
We will encourage people to add their own commentary prior to amplifying content by prompting them to Quote Tweet instead of Retweet. People who go to Retweet will be brought to the Quote Tweet composer where they’ll be encouraged to comment before sending their Tweet.
Labeling Misleading Tweets
Furthermore, Twitter leaves to suggest that it would delete misleading tweets, but it would take all content into a pre-check mechanism. Thus, a false information label that would direct people to its vetted election information portal. Herein, the platform does not aim to delete all tweets threatening interference with the election. On the other hand, it intends to control the whole process.
We currently may label Tweets that violate our policies against misleading information about civic integrity, COVID-19, and synthetic and manipulated media.
In this regard, on labeled misleading tweets, users will be given a pop-up prompt pointing to reliable information while reading a tweet. Besides, Twitter extends these marks to tweets that promote misinformation about COVID-19, elections and voting, and everything that manipulated media, including both images and videos.
Moreover, those warning labels can conceal deceptive tweets, including politicians and individuals with +100,000 followers.
Change in the Suggestions
Twitter also turns off "liked by" and "followed by" recommendations from unfollowed accounts, which were previously automatically prompting in the timeline. Hence, the company aims to confine the misinformation into an echo chamber. Thus it seeks to decelerate the speed of spread through the platform.
We will prevent “liked by” and “followed by” recommendations from people you don’t follow from showing up in your timeline and won’t send notifications for these Tweets.
Controlling the Trends
Moreover, Twitter reforms its Trends feature, too. It says it has increased the number of staff to counter the trending topics daily, specifically on the ongoing election process. It also narrows down the Trends to display those which an additional context within.
Last Few Words:
Those moves represent a new policy to raise public awareness and to prevent misinformation of any kind. The company wants to ensure that people can have access to reliable information. In this regard, Twitter discourages any possible massive disinformation acts related to the incoming presidential elections and the COVID-19 pandemic. It seems those changes will affect public mass communication strategies globally in the long run.