“Did you really read the article?”. Twitter will ask you to learn more before retweeting


The challenge is always the same: “cleaning up” conversations, compressing the space for maneuvering hoaxes and artfully constructed stories to pollute exchanges, “promoting informed discussion”, as Twitter explains. Which, in the midst of the ongoing half-revolution with which it has added new features to limit who can reply to our tweets or launch its stories, christened “leet, now inaugurates a rather significant test. On Android, in fact, a kind of warning will ask users who are retweeting an article if they do not want to open it first to read it. It would be the basis but not everyone does it. Rather.

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On the other hand, this is the objection that is addressed to each other on social networks. And always. Content is judged by the title, by snippet, from the preview that we display on the shift platform. Sharing it with fiery posts, or commenting with your head down. But often the page has never been opened and therefore, in fact, it is shared or written about trust: of the publication, the source and who shared that content. Or, more often, on the basis of their own prejudices, which, moreover, draw much of our “social bubbles”. Now the social led by Jack Dorsey will try to do nudging, how do you say. That is to give a push to its users and guide them towards slightly more informed conversations. With a notice that will be triggered if that article is not opened via Twitter.

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The official support account of the platform confirmed this: “Sharing an article can turn on the conversation, so maybe you might want to read it before tweeting it. To support the informed discussion, we are testing a new notice on an Android: when you repackage a piece that you have not opened on Twitter, we may ask you if you want to read it first “. Obviously the notice does not prevent you from sharing that content anyway. But, in fact, there is a little more to do.

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The test started on groups of Android users in the United States but the confirmation of the giant suggests that the experiment could soon spread elsewhere. A very brief pause for reflection, before relaunching an article that in fact not much is known except the title, with which the platform hopes to slow down the spread of the infodemic that grips all social platforms on equal terms. And that in the midst of a pandemic he put the accelerator with new speculation material around Sars-Cov-2. A bit on the same line as last March, when he reviewed his policies prohibiting disclosures that contravene the indications of the health authorities regarding the coronavirus.

Or last month, when the social network started testing a warning that warned users that they were about to tweet a potentially harmful and violent response. In that case, however, judging were the algorithms that compared what has just been written by the user with a dataset of contents and terms frequently reported as dangerous. This time it is a simpler mechanism: if that link has not been opened, take the advice.

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“It’s easy to go viral on Twitter for links and articles,” he said Kayvon Beykpour, product manager and co-founder of Periscope – it can be a powerful but sometimes dangerous dynamic, especially if people have not read what they are raising. This feature encourages people to get informed. “

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As we said, it’s a bet. Some may find these attempts to be ‘paternalistic’, but the basic idea is to provide users with the opportunity to make small daily choices different from the usual rather than force them, in order to change some behaviors in the medium term. Or at least weaken its diffusion, convincing a part of it at least to read before relaunching. Absurdly, however, there remains a big underlying problem: if those contents are really harmful and full of conspiracy theories or unverified facts, the “push” even risks giving birth to even more polarized users. A nice headache.

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Mario Calabresi
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