Twitter could roll out 'fake news' button on tweets

The company, however, fears that users could manipulate it

Aatif Sulleyman
Friday 30 June 2017 12:52 BST
Bots are spreading propaganda and shaping Twitter users’ political views, said a recent report
Bots are spreading propaganda and shaping Twitter users’ political views, said a recent report

Twitter is exploring the idea of building a fake news button, a new report says.

The feature is currently said to be in “a prototype phase”, but could roll out in the future as a convenient way for users to stop the spread of false stories.

How it would work isn’t yet clear, but anonymous sources familiar with the plans say a fake news button could sit next to individual tweets.

Users would be able to access it through “a tiny tab appearing in a drop-down menu”, according to the Washington Post.

In its current form, the drop-down menu on Twitter updates lets you mute or block a user, or report the tweet.

It’s an interesting idea, though Twitter is being cautious because of fears that people might “use the new button to game the system”.

Twitter spokesperson Emily Horne has said that company has “no current plans” to launch it, though this could change as the feature develops further.

According to a recent study from the University of Oxford, pro-Leave bots “played a small but strategic role” in shaping Twitter conversations during the EU referendum last year.

Bots are working with trolls to spread propaganda and manipulate Twitter and Facebook users’ political views, and affected the outcome of the 2016 US Presidential election, it added.

The report called on social media sites to redesign themselves in order to regain trust.

“Computational propaganda is now one of the most powerful tools against democracy. Social media firms may not be creating this nasty content, but they are the platform for it.

“They need to significantly redesign themselves if democracy is going to survive social media.”

Hackers have also started cloning trusted Twitter accounts in order to spread fake news.

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