Could Twitter fact-check my tweets?

    Posted on May 28, 2020

     

    Earlier this week, in what was a first for the social media site, Twitter put fact-checking labels at the end of both components of a two-part tweet from US President Donald Trump.

    Trump claimed in the tweets that mail-in ballots for this year’s Presidential Election will be “substantially fraudulent”, but this claim is without basis, prompting an addendum from Twitter directing users to other sources that give a fuller picture on the matter.

    Twitter says it took this step to offer “additional context and conversation” on the subject of mail-in ballots, but Trump’s response to the intervention has been typically quarrelsome. He accuses Twitter of “stifling FREE SPEECH” and has even threatened to use his power to shut the platform down. Yeah, good luck with that!

    Assuming Trump is unsuccessful and Twitter lives on, are we all going to have our tweets sifted through, with any inaccuracies highlighted? What does this mean for businesspeople using Twitter to say they’re the “best” in the business, or offer the lowest prices? Could Twitter “fact-check” this and essentially hijack their tweets to direct readers to other sources, i.e. competitors?

    It has been reported that 500 million tweets are posted every day, equating to 6,000 every second. Bearing these huge numbers in mind, it seems improbable that Twitter will find the time to analyse all of them.

    Primarily, Twitter wants to nip what it calls “potentially harmful and misleading content” in the bud and limit its spread. In a blog post on May 11, the company explained that a big part of this has been to combat disputed or inaccurate information on COVID-19. Some high-profile examples include a conspiracy theory connecting 5G networks with the virus and a spoof NHS message stating that alcohol was being banned in the UK during lockdown.

    In the great scheme of things, SMEs will probably not need to worry about the effects of Twitter’s fact checks, but that doesn’t mean they should fabricate claims. The route to social media success is to be authentic, honest and helpful to followers and customers, remembering that Twitter may take action if your tweets are reported for being misleading.

    For high-quality content both on your website and social media channels, contact the Engage Web team.

    John Murray

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