Re: Twitter Birdwatch: user annotation for credibility, truth, etc.

You wrote:

> "this [Birdwatch] will wind up as a fight between the lablers of the left
> and the right."

If Twitter exposes every Birdwatch message for every tweet you read, Yes,
it will be a mess. Birdwatch will become little more than a second thread
of responses attached to every tweet. If they allow replies to, or
rebuttals of, Birdwatch messages, then it will just get much worse. But,...

But, it doesn't have to be that way. Twitter already provides us a means to
filter the mass of all tweets by choosing who we will follow. Twitter
could do the same, or something like it, for Birdwatch messages  -- you
might only see stuff published by people who you had previously decided to
follow. Thus, even if there are thousands of Birdwatch messages posted for
some specific tweet that you read, you would see only a subset of the
messages. That subset would be representative of the people on Twitter
whose opinions you value. As a result every Twitter user might see
Birdwatch messages from a different universe of Birdwatchers (?)

If Twitter allows users to select which Birdwatchers should be followed, we
might see Twitter accounts whose primary purpose is not to tweet, but
rather just to Birdwatch others' tweets. By "following" one of these
accounts, you would see their comments on the veracity, credibility, etc.
of various tweets and tweeters. If you didn't follow them, you wouldn't be
exposed to their opinions. Of course, Twitter might also offer up a number
of default Birdwatchers intended to provide broadly useful data to various
communities. We might also have independent accounts that curate and
aggregate Birdwatcher comments. The idea here would be that someone would
monitor many Birdwatchers and build an aggregated feed by selecting those
messages that can be independently  verified, carry good evidence, appear
to make insightful observations, are from credible sources, etc.

Of course, there is yet no evidence that Twitter intends to allow selection
of messages in the manner I sketch above. But, we can expect that the trial
will evolve some over time. I think it should evolve to allow "following"
of Birdwatchers just as Twitter now allows following tweeters -- even if it
just makes the assumption that you wish to see Birdwatch statements from
all those whose tweets you follow.

You also wrote:

> "would it not be better to ask users to post to a trusted source instead?"

Why would it be better? Forcing folk to post statements on a "trusted
source" other than Twitter would undoubtedly reduce drastically the volume
of statements made. So, if limiting the volume is your goal, Yes, that
would work. But, it would also dramatically reduce the utility of the
system. Personally, I think the issue isn't so much where the data is
posted but rather how one selects the subset that one will be exposed to,
what aggregates or scores are generated from the data, how things are
presented to users, and whether one is able to associate actions with
Birdwatch data (e.g. Can I tell Twitter to hide from me anything that most
of my trusted sources say is false?).

Even if Twitter does allow each of us to select which specific Bird
Watchers to follow, it might actually be both interesting and useful to add
some indicator to the display of a tweet that showed a score or count based
on all statements made, not just those made by Bird Watchers you follow.
This would allow you to discover, even if none of those you followed had
published about a specific tweet, that it was a controversial tweet.
Knowing this, you might then be able to click on a "see more" link, just as
you can today on some long threads, to expand the view beyond those you

I think Tom is right in suggesting that Birdwatch will turn into a battle
ground if every message is published. On the other hand, it seems to me
that there are some fairly simple things that Twitter could do to more
finely tune which Birdwatchers one is exposed to by default. In any case,
let's hope that this experiment generates useful information and motivates
progress in the field.

bob wyman

On Mon, Jan 25, 2021 at 11:29 PM Tom Jones <>

> this will wind up as a fight between the lablers of the left and the right.
> would it not be better to ask users to post to a trusted source instead?
> Peace ..tom
> On Mon, Jan 25, 2021 at 5:38 PM Bob Wyman <> wrote:
>> Today, Twitter launched Birdwatch <> a
>> system which, I think, should be relevant to the work of this group:
>> "Birdwatch 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.
>>> Eventually we aim to make notes visible directly on Tweets for the global
>>> Twitter audience, when there is consensus from a broad and diverse set of
>>> contributors." Keith Coleman, Twitter Vice President of Product in "Introducing
>>> Birdwatch, a community-based approach to misinformation
>>> <>
>>> ."
>> Has anyone had a chance to review Birdwatch? What do you think?
>> Useful links:
>>    - Birdwatch Guide on GitHub <>
>>    - Birdwatch on Twitter <> (signup to
>>    trial, see recent annotated tweets, etc.)
>>    - Birdwatch Announcement
>>    <>
>>  bob wyman

Received on Tuesday, 26 January 2021 06:28:40 UTC