By: Nick Gambino
With all that has been done and said about the 2016 U.S. presidential election, which I won’t rehash here for the sake of our sanity, social media platforms have been called upon to proactively work toward a solution for the rampant spread of false information.
We’ve seen a number of ways in which Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others have attempted to combat this “epidemic” of misinformation, most of which have been well received. This week sees another feature by Twitter that, while it won’t eradicate the problem, should certainly help.
Seeing as though the problem is user-generated, it stands to reason that the solution should also lie with the platform’s users. The new feature is simply an addition to the “Report Tweet” function. When you reveal the dropdown menu upon clicking the option, you’ll now see a new entry: “It’s misleading about voting.”
By tapping this option, the tweet will be flagged as problematic and you will then be able to give more information about the content if you so desire.
“Any attempts to undermine the process of registering to vote or engaging in the electoral process is contrary to our company’s core values,” Twitter said in a blog post. “Today, we are further expanding our enforcement capabilities in this area by creating a dedicated reporting feature within the product to allow users to more easily report this content to us.”
Voter misinformation tagging is just in time for a number of public elections being held over the next few weeks in various countries. Countries which are holding these elections, like India and others in Europe will see the feature first. It will then proceed to roll out to the rest of the world, hopefully soon.
Seeing as though there’s plenty of coverage and activity on the U.S.’s next presidential election already in full swing, we need it sooner rather than later.
As with any social media, this flagging system is a double-edged sword. While it can be used to curb the spread of misinformation, it can also be used to further compound the problem it seeks to eliminate. By using this reporting system to flag any tweet that goes against your political slant, it just becomes another way of spreading bias and preventing counter views.
Despite how it might be used by some, it’s still a worthwhile attempt to curb abuse in democratic elections.