According to a source who spoke to the Washington Post, Twitter is considering adding a new feature, a button designed to let users flag fake news:
The feature, which is still in a prototype phase and may never be released, is part of the company’s uphill battle against rampant abuse on its platform. It could look like a tiny tab appearing in a drop-down menu alongside tweets, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release details of the effort.
Twitter has been plagued by many issues, such as fake accounts that can be purchased outright for pennies and that spread automated messages and false stories. Extremists use the service as a recruiting tool, and hate-spewing trolls have threatened women and minorities…
One estimate from the service Twitter Audit found that 59 percent of President Trump’s followers are bots or fake accounts, while Hillary Clinton’s are 66 percent bots (Twitter does not comment on third party estimates).
The Post story doesn’t say what would happen when something gets flagged. Does a human at Twitter review it? Who are those people and how were they selected? Does the news in question disappear until a human can review it? Or does it get flagged as fake to everyone who sees it?
Anyone who has ever been on Twitter (or been anywhere online where people argue about politics) can predict how this is going to work out. Within minutes of this feature going live, partisans will determine that every tweet coming from the Trump administration and, on the other side, everything tweeted out by CNN is fake news. The abuse aimed at big personalities and big corporations will get screened out but people lower on the totem pole will not get the same protection.
I have no doubt that both sides of the aisle would abuse such a system. However, one side of the aisle has made shouting down opponents one of its primary tactics. Look at the behavior of progressives on campuses across the country and then keep in mind most of those people are on Twitter. I also wonder how the close calls will be processed. Is something “fake news” if it’s partly wrong? Who makes the judgment in those cases? God help us all if Twitter starts relying on Snopes or Politifact to determine what news is real and what news is not.