Twitter needs a pause button

Imagine a simple change. A user creates a post or video on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or wherever. She presses the button to post it. And then … she waits. Only after an interval does her post go live. The interval might be 10 minutes, or it might be an hour, or it might be user-selected.

During that interval, something might happen. The user might receive a warning that a factual claim in her post had been disputed by leading fact-checkers. Facebook already provides such warnings, offering fact-checkers’ appraisals and asking users whether they wish to proceed anyway. Or, if she chose, her post might be routed to a handful of trusted friends, who might advise her that she was about to tweet herself out of a job. Or, toward the end of the interval, she might be required to view a screen displaying her post and asking, “Are you sure you’re ready to share this with the world? Remember, it will be out there forever.” Meanwhile, algorithms and humans could ensure that she isn’t posting a snuff video.

The point is not the particulars. There is no single right way to introduce slowth. The point, rather, is this: Strategically introduced friction gives platforms and users time to vet content in whatever way they deem appropriate. It might reduce the velocity of something like the Christchurch video enough to give platforms’ monitors a fighting chance.

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