Product

Birdwatch is getting a new onboarding process and more visible notes

By
Wednesday, 7 September 2022

Birdwatch is a collaborative way to add helpful context to Tweets and keep people better informed.

As a recap, the program is made up of a group of people, or contributors, who help identify information in Tweets they believe is misleading and write notes that provide informative context. Only notes that are rated Helpful by a diverse group of contributors, or that “bridge” across groups of people who have tended to disagree in their past ratings, are made visible on Twitter.

The program began testing in 2021 and is regularly being updated and improved thanks to analysis from our research team and feedback from our academic advisory board and Birdwatch contributors. Now, we’re rolling out a new onboarding process and expanding the visibility of notes to increase the positive impact of Birdwatch and enable healthier Twitter conversations. 

Here’s a look at what’s new, along with some important new findings that highlight the impact Birdwatch is already having on Twitter.

A better way to join and contribute to Birdwatch

We're rolling out an updated Birdwatch onboarding process that better incentivizes contributors to write and rate notes in a thoughtful way.

New Birdwatch contributors who have met the eligibility criteria* will begin with an initial Rating Impact score of zero, which they can increase by consistently rating other contributors’ notes and reliably identifying those that are Helpful and Not Helpful. Once a contributor’s score has risen to five, they can start writing notes.

Contributors can further increase their Writing and Rating Impact scores by both writing Helpful notes and continuing to rate notes written by others. Repeatedly writing notes that reach a status of Not Helpful, however, will result in a decreasing score and could temporarily lock a contributor’s note writing ability.

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*Birdwatch contributors must have a verified phone number from a trusted US-based carrier, no recent Twitter Rules violations, and a minimum six months on Twitter.

Expanding the Birdwatch contributor base and the visibility of notes

With the new onboarding process in place, we’re ready to begin expanding our contributor base. 

We’ll start by adding larger groups of eligible applicants to the pilot on a more frequent basis. The process will be adjusted as needed as we closely monitor whether this change has any impact on either the quality or the frequency of contributions. 

The visibility of notes on public Tweets will also be increasing. In the coming weeks, more people using Twitter in the US will start to see notes on Tweets that Birdwatch contributors have collectively identified as Helpful. Importantly, this doesn’t mean you’ll start seeing notes on every Tweet, simply that a larger number of you will start seeing notes that have been rated Helpful. 

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Understanding the impact of Birdwatch

Our research indicates that Birdwatch is an effective way to keep people better informed on Twitter.

According to the results of three surveys, people who see a Birdwatch note are, on average, 20-40% less likely to agree with the substance of a potentially misleading Tweet than someone who sees the Tweet alone. By analyzing our internal data, we also estimate that people on Twitter who see notes are, on average, 15-35% less likely to Like or Retweet a Tweet than someone who sees the Tweet alone.

Notes are intentionally designed to be as informative and helpful as possible — no matter who sees them — thanks in large part to the “bridging algorithm” we mentioned above. Here’s how it works: 

In order to be shown on a Tweet, Birdwatch notes need to be found helpful by people who have tended to disagree in their past ratings. This means the algorithm takes into account not only how many contributors rated a note as Helpful or Not Helpful, but also whether people who rated it seem to come from different perspectives. 

This approach appears to be having an impact. In our most recent survey, notes were found to be informative regardless of a person's self-identified political party affiliation — there was no statistically significant difference in average informativeness across party ID. The algorithm and all data it uses are publicly available on GitHub so anyone can audit, analyze, or suggest improvements.

If you’re interested in joining Birdwatch and contributing to a healthier, more well-informed Twitter conversation, click this link to get started. 

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