The short message service wants to curb the spread of disinformation on the platform and, with a new feature, asks users to read articles first before they share them.
In mid-June, Twitter started testing a new function that prompts users to read articles before retweeted them. By means of a prompt, users are encouraged to read more than just the headline of an article. Now the results of the test are available – and they show a positive effect. If users are prompted by a notice to read an article before sharing it, they open the corresponding article on Twitter 40 percent more often than before. At the same time, the proportion of those who open an article before sharing it increased by 33 percent.
Against fake news: Twitter is rolling out a new feature to make discussions more meaningful
Twitter is rolling out the new feature worldwide for all users in order to make conversations and discussions on the platform more meaningful with more information, according to the social media group. Next says Suzanne Xie, Director of Product Management at Twitter and head of the project:
Articles can easily go viral on Twitter. On the one hand, this is great for exchanging information quickly. But it can also be detrimental to an informed exchange of views, especially if users haven’t read what they are tweeting. So we tested a note to encourage people to read articles before sharing. The result: users open the relevant articles more frequently before retweeting, which in turn contributes to more informed and well-considered communication.
The function currently only takes into account links that lead to news sites. In addition, it is only recorded whether the link has already been accessed via Twitter in the past seven days. Accordingly, the short message service does not check whether the article has been opened beforehand, for example with the app on a news site or directly via a mobile phone browser. Despite the prompt to read, it is still possible to share posts without first reading the article on Twitter.
Fact check labels and QAnon ban: Twitter tries to narrow down disinformation
The new feature is another step on Twitter to curb the spread of disinformation on the platform. The social platform had previously introduced a fact check label for misleading tweets. With one click on the label, users should get reliable information on a topic. Twitter wants to achieve that not everything that can be found on the platform is accepted as true, but is also questioned. Twitter also tries to limit the sharing of dangerous conspiracy theories, such as those of the QAnon conspiracy theorists. For example, the profiles of QAnon supporters were blocked and the range of hashtags used by the conspiracy group was cut.
It remains to be seen whether users actually read the articles first and then share them on Twitter. Because some users might see the new feature as too much interference in their user behavior. The consequence would be that they turn away from the platform entirely and increasingly use other channels such as Facebook. The positive test results give hope, however, that the new function could encourage users to read.