Twitter Announces "Birdwatchers" Content Moderation [Content Made Simple]

Issue #206: Facebook gets transparent (kinda), and Twitter acquires a newsletter company.


Twitter said it hopes to build a community of "Birdwatchers" that can eventually help moderate and label tweets in its main product.



Twitter unveiled a feature Monday meant to bolster its efforts to combat misinformation and disinformation by tapping users in a fashion similar to Wikipedia to flag potentially misleading tweets.

The new system allows users to discuss and provide context to tweets they believe are misleading or false. The project, titled Birdwatch, is a standalone section of Twitter that will at first only be available to a small set of users, largely on a first-come, first-served basis. Priority will not be provided to high-profile people or traditional fact-checkers, but users will have to use an account tied to a real phone number and email address.


I think this is a good development, but I do have a lot of questions. Two of my concerns are: 1) is Twitter just getting people to do this for free? and 2) how can we be sure bias will not screw this up? I actually applied to be a “Birdwatcher.” Anyone can. I will be watching this feature closely. I think it could really be an exciting element of Twitter for the future, but anytime you involve a lot of people in a project like this, it can definitely go wrong.


Snapchat paying users in attempt to take on TikTok; Our favorite Bernie memes

Snapchat has added a new feature in an attempt to take on TikTok. The catch is that they are paying people to create on their platform. Finally, we couldn't let the week go by without talking about Bernie memes.


Link #1: Facebook will let researchers study how advertisers targeted users with political ads prior to Election Day

I’m all about Facebook transparency.

Facebook is aiming to improve transparency around political advertising on its platform by opening up more data to independent researchers, including targeting information on more than 1.3 million ads that ran in the three months prior to the US election on November 3rd of last year. Researchers interested in studying the ads can apply for access to the Facebook Open Research and Transparency (FORT) platform here.

Link #2: A Fight Over GameStop’s Soaring Stock Turns Ugly

Social media users on Reddit had a significant role in the spike and drop of GameStop stock this week. A super interesting story.

TODAY, A WAR over the value of video game retailer GameStop’s stock has caused what market guru Jim Cramer called “the squeeze of a lifetime.” Howling with glee along the way, traders on the chaotic and obscene subreddit WallStreetBets helped push GameStop’s stock price up from $20 on January 11 to $73 after traditional analysts deemed the stock a clunker.

While this isn’t the first time WallStreetBets has contributed to a surprising market shake-up, GameStop’s unlikely trip to the moon is unique in both its velocity and the allegations of harassment and hacking that accompanied it.

Link #3: Twitter Buys Into Newsletters With Revue Acquisition

Folks have been wondering if Twitter would attempt to buy Substack or some other newsletter service for some time. Well, they did. They bought Revue.

Twitter is acquiring Revue, an email service that lets writers publish newsletters. The move allows Twitter to capitalize on its user base of writers, journalists, and publications that regularly use the service to reach readers and grow their audiences.

“With a robust community of writers and readers, Twitter is uniquely positioned to help organizations and writers grow their readership faster and at a much larger scale than anywhere else,” explains Twitter product lead Kayvon Beykpour. “Our goal is to make it easy for them to connect with their subscribers, while also helping readers better discover writers and their content.”


If you like this, you should subscribe to my free newsletter of funny content I find online. It’s called The Funnies. It delivers on Saturday mornings.

You can subscribe to The Funnies here. (It is and will always be free.)