Twitter and Facebook Scrap Changes Designed to Curb Misinformation

(The Telegraph)

Twitter and Facebook have reversed some of their policies designed to protect the US election – AFP
Twitter and Facebook have reversed some of their policies designed to protect the US election – AFP
Facebook and Twitter have scrapped changes made to their services that were aimed at stopping the spread of misinformation online.

Facebook has stopped amplifying accurate news sources on its social network, a policy it introduced following the US election which was designed to prevent misinformation about the election result spreading among its users.

“This was a temporary change we made,” a Facebook spokesman told Bloomberg.

Their algorithm lifted news from authoritative outlets over hyperpartisan sources after November’s election, according to a report in the New York Times.

The implementation of the algorithm had resulted in a reduction in traffic for partisan sites like Breitbart and Occupy Democrats and an increase for mainstream news publishers, the report said.

Twitter has also undone a major change it made around the time of the US election when it made it more difficult for its users to retweet posts published by other people.

The social network instead encouraged people to “quote tweet” posts with a comment, a step which the company said was designed to stop misleading information spreading rapidly.

On Wednesday, the company said in a post that “retweet functionality will be returning to the way it was before.”

“Our goal with prompting quote tweets (instead of retweets) was to encourage more thoughtful amplification,” the company wrote in a post on Twitter. “We don’t believe that this happened, in practice.”

The company has also suspended its ban on political advertising that was introduced ahead of the US election. It announced earlier this week that it will temporarily lift the ban to let campaigners run adverts around the Georgia runoff elections.

“We agree that our ad tools are an important way for people to get information about these elections,” Facebook product manager Sarah Schiff wrote in a blog post announcing the temporary lift of the ban.

The advertising ban, announced in October, was always planned as a temporary measure designed “to reduce opportunities for confusion or abuse,” Facebook has said. It’s unclear how long the ban will continue for.

Twitter and Facebook have announced that they will remove vaccine misinformation on their sites which risks discouraging people from having themselves vaccinated against coronavirus.

Twitter will begin enforcing the policy next week and will require its users to delete the offending posts.