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Fighting Misinformation on Twitter: Intricacies of Twitter’s latest pilot feature ‘Birdwatch’

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The preponderant influx of misinformation on social media and its injurious effects on audiences have been a prominent drive for fact-checkers in the campaign against fake news and misinformation. Consequently, leading social media organisations such as Facebook and Twitter are growing in an awareness of the need for swift strategies to counter the surging flanks of fake news on their platforms.

It is in light of this that Twitter has recently launched what it named  ‘Birdwatch’ – a community-driven tool that relies on the social network of users to provide context to tweets that appear misinforming or lacks details.

As Twitter explained, “Birdwatch allows people to identify information in Tweets they believe is misleading and write notes that provide informative context. We believe this approach has the potential to respond quickly when misleading information spreads, adding context that people trust and find valuable. Eventually, we aim to make notes visible directly on Tweets for the global Twitter audience, when there is consensus from a broad and diverse set of contributors. In this first phase of the pilot, notes will only be visible on a separate Birdwatch site. On this site, pilot participants can also rate the helpfulness of notes added by other contributors. These notes are being intentionally kept separate from Twitter for now, while we build Birdwatch and gain confidence that it produces context people find helpful and appropriate. Additionally, notes will not have an effect on the way people see Tweets or our system recommendations.”

The evolving nature of Twitter’s policies 

Although there is a novelty associated with the Birdwatch feature, this is not the first time Twitter is deliberately stepping up its efforts to combat misinformation on their platform. In the third quarter of 2020, the social media company announced its intentions to thwart election-related misinformation by banning or tagging complicating content about ballot tampering, election rigging, election results and other similar issues. Twitter’s action, which follows a similar initiative announced by Facebook in almost the same period, establishes the thread for a rising battle between the social media companies and misinformants who have been sharing misleading information and false claims about voting and other diverse topics.

Continue reading here.

FACT CHECKS OF THE WEEK 

A 30-second video going viral on social media claims there is a plan to eliminate Africans through vaccines. In the video, a witness named Dr Robert O. Young who was answering questions from a set of panellists said there were too many people in the world and…

A certain web-based message going round on WhatsApp claims that the Federal Government is offering  N10,500 weekly as COVID-19 second wave grants. How true is this?

A WhatsApp Message claimed that an exposed BVN does not give a fraudster access to your money; they’d instead, get information such as Name, Date of Birth and Phone number…

QandA

  • What is the correct way to wear your face mask?

There has been a longstanding misconception about which side of the mask should face out while in use. For this reason, Dubawa researched and found that the coloured side (whether blue or green) should be outside but if the mask comes in one colour for both sides or all white, then the feel of the material should be used to determine which part should be out. For such masks, the softer part should be inside as it is the moisture absorbent layer while the rougher part should be outside as it is the moisture-repellent layer.

It is not advisable to use mask ear loops as a determinant for the direction of your mask as they are not consistent. While sometimes the straps are attached to the outside layer, other times the straps are attached to the inside layer. A video on how to properly wear a surgical or medical mask is also available here.

  • Is there a Nipah Virus outbreak in China?

While it is true the Nipah virus exists and has a fatality rate of between 40% to 75%, it is not a new virus and it did not originate from China. The WHO noted the virus was first reported in  1999 in Malaysia.

Coronavirus infection count 

Note: Total cases may be more than officially stated owing to the inability to include unconfirmed cases. Stay safe

Tip of the week 

#FakeNews Alert 

  • Nigerians who have used Ivermectin may be immune to COVID-19 – Neuroscientist (SOURCE: WhatsApp Message)

‘A neuroscientist, Dr. Chidi Njemanze, says majority of Nigerians have developed strong immunity against COVID-19 and might not need the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines expected in the country by the end of the month.’

The above is an excerpt from a Punch report recently shared on WhatsApp. It claims Nigerians have no use for the available Covid-19 vaccines. While we can’t, at the moment, ascertain the post’s truthfulness, Dubawa advises desisting from sharing this unverified message further. 

Other Fact-checks/Articles 

Strengthening Investigative Journalism for the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

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