Twitter is making its moves against misinformation more prominent in recent times. Its latest move is for a feature that prompts a user to open an article first, when you hit the retweet button. The feature, as Twitter Support has confirmed, will only track your activity inside the Twitter platform and not what you do elsewhere on the internet, so as to not violate privacy of users. The move, as Twitter would hope, may push more users to at least open an article before retweeting it anyway, although there is likely going to be an option to skip compulsorily opening an article since this may delay the intuitive flow of retweeting an article.
The move comes on the back of Twitter adding fact checking labels to tweets related to sensitive topics such as Covid-19 and 5G. Moves taken by the platform come at a time when there is an increasing cry for social media platforms to stop hiding behind their ‘intermediary’ tag and take more responsibility for the content that is shared on their platform. Retweets, on this note, are the easiest way of sharing an article, which is what makes it even more crucial for Twitter to moderate how articles are shared on the platform. However, it is important to note that many people read articles outside of the Twitter ecosystem, i.e. via Google and Facebook's platforms as well. As a result, this may not work to the best interest of Twitter's end-user experience design.
Sharing an article can spark conversation, so you may want to read it before you Tweet it.
To help promote informed discussion, we're testing a new prompt on Android –– when you Retweet an article that you haven't opened on Twitter, we may ask if you'd like to open it first.— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) June 10, 2020
As of now, the prompt to open an article before retweeting will only be under testing, so not all of us may have access to this feature. Furthermore, the feature will appear only on Twitter’s Android app, with iOS integration expected to follow at a later stage. The new feature comes on the back of Twitter introducing Instagram Stories-like disappearing posts, called Fleets, for its users in India. While Fleets works exactly the way Snapchat’s ‘Snaps’, WhatsApp’s disappearing status updates and the likes operate, it adds a new angle for Twitter to try engaging its users more. However, it is not clear if Fleets would help Twitter’s actions against misinformation or work against it.
Retweeting articles without reading is one of the most common ways in which propaganda may be spread on the platform, which is what makes it even more important for Twitter to act on it. Now, it remains to be seen as to how users take to the feature. The feature should be rolling out for select users across the world in the coming days.