X (formerly Twitter) Changes How Crowdsourced Fact-Checking Works
This week, X announced a change to its crowdsourced fact-checking feature called Community Notes. Users will now have the ability to review all proposed notes for an X post, rather than just the one they’re currently reviewing. This update aims to provide contributors with more helpful information and encourage a broader consideration of different viewpoints.
This subtle tweak has the potential to influence Community Notes contributors to evaluate alternative perspectives instead of simply agreeing with the crowd’s consensus. When contributors rate a note as helpful, it is displayed publicly below the post as a crowdsourced fact-check.
X believes that this change was necessary to ensure contributors have access to as much relevant information as possible when rating notes.
However, this change also introduces the possibility of presenting conflicting viewpoints to contributors. It may lead to confusion regarding which proposed note is the most helpful and accurate. While feedback on X’s update has been generally positive, its practical impact remains to be seen. Will more contributors consider changing their minds and selecting alternative notes as more helpful options instead of their initial choice?
X provided an example where two notes are presented, both of which can be considered helpful. One corrects misinformation in a tweet by stating that whales are mammals, while the other suggests no note is needed because the account is a parody. Both notes are factually true, but the latter could potentially encourage Community Notes contributors to remove important context from the tweet.
This situation becomes even more complicated if the parody account is politically oriented and spreading misinformation. Removing the note solely based on it being a parody account could be harmful if users fail to check the account’s bio, where its nature as a parody is disclosed.
The feature, initially launched as Birdwatch in 2021 before Elon Musk acquired X (formerly Twitter), utilizes an algorithm that seeks consensus amidst differing points of view within groups. Only after proving their capability by rating notes as helpful or not helpful and aligning with the larger community’s decision do Community Notes contributors earn points.
Musk has continued to update the system since taking ownership, recently introducing Community Notes for videos and implementing other changes to enhance the process and address low-quality contributions.